Whirlpool is taking a new step in bringing “smart,” digitally networked appliances into the mainstream — it’s actually putting them on sale.
Over the past month or so, the Benton Falls, Mich.-based white goods giant has been selling a refrigerator, a dishwasher and a washer/dryer unit equipped with its 6th Sense Live technology, which allows each appliance to be turned on, link up to a household Wi-Fi network, and show up on customer smartphones, tablets and PCs.
Whirlpool has also launched its My Smart Appliances app, available for iTunes download for iPhone and iPad users, or via the web for other mobile devices or PCs and laptops. The app allows customers to view each appliance to see when it’s running, how much power its using and how much it costs, along with controls to schedule wash cycles, alert users when the fridge door is open or the dryer is clogged with lint, or tell users to email the repairman when maintenance is due.
The idea behind networked appliances is far from new, of course — all the big white-goods companies in the United States, Europe and Asia have been testing smart appliances in utility pilots, as well as promising to bring the latest generation of CES showcase prototypes to market soon. Whirlpool is among the first in the United States to take a crack at getting customers to buy in to the networked home vision with real live commercial products, however.