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Smart appliances can simplify everyday tasks

October 25, 2011 12:43:29 AM PDT
Imagine a kitchen where your refrigerator suggests recipes, or a vacuum that doubles as home security. It sounds like something straight out of the "Jetsons," but gadgets like these could soon be installed your house.

Molly Gold is an organizing ace. In fact, she's made a business out of it. Still, there are times when even she gets a little crazed.

Gold might benefit from some high-tech help. CNET.com says the latest breed of smart appliances promises to simplify everyday tasks from cooking to cleaning up.

"Most likely, they'll be able to save you both time and money," said Molly Wood of CNET.

For example, check out refrigerators that are Wi-Fi enabled. One model by Samsung has an 8-inch LCD touch screen and is loaded with apps.

"It can actually give you your calendar, your weather report, the latest news. It can play music, and you can even leave little notes, or send a Tweet," Wood said.

You can also download recipes from Epicurious.

An smart appliance to look forward to is an oven that texts when your food is done.

"Also in the future, Wi-Fi connected ovens could integrate with recipe databases, so you could get cooking information for specific things," Wood said.

Clean up the crumbs with the latest and greatest robotic vacuum. Cameras on the top and bottom of LG's Hom-Bot map out and remember your home's floor plan. And in the future, you'll be able to connect to the vacuum with your smartphone so that you can see a live stream from the cameras.

Right now, you can see stains disappear with Whirlpool's Vantage washer and dryer, featuring a USB port.

"That actually lets you connect a USB stick to it if you want to add program information. So, for example, you could program the washer dryer to deal with certain kinds of stains, certain kinds of fabrics," Wood said.

Finally, track your energy consumption by the minute with GE's Nucleus. It plugs directly into the wall, and then communicates with a special "smart meter."

"You have a little application that runs either on your computer or your smartphone, and it really helps you kind of do a little bit of an audit in terms of what you use, when you use it, things you might be able to turn off," Wood said.

Gold said she likes that the Nucleus could give her the power to lower the energy bill.

"Anything that puts you in the driver's seat of monitoring your consumption is a good thing," Gold said.

These products don't come cheap. They range in price from $150 for the GE Nucleus to more than $3,000 for the Samsung refrigerator.

The GE Nucleus is currently available as part of a smart-meter pilot program. The Nucleus is expected to become more widely available soon.


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