Wednesday, 4 January 2017

LG threatens to put Wi-Fi in every appliance it introduces in 2017

(credit: LG)

In the past few years, products at CES have increasingly focused on putting the Internet in everything, no matter how "dumb" the device in question is by nature. It's how we've ended up with stuff like this smart hairbrush, this smart air freshener, these smart ceiling fans, or this $100 pet food bowl that can order things from Amazon.

Now that phenomenon is reaching its logical endpoint: during the company's CES press conference today, LG marketing VP David VanderWaal says that "starting this year" all of LG's home appliances will feature "advanced Wi-Fi connectivity." One of the flagship appliances that will make good on this promise is the Smart Instaview Refrigerator, a webOS-powered Internet-connected fridge that among other things supports integration with Amazon's Alexa service.

Alexa isn't an inherently bad fit for a refrigerator, which like the Amazon Echo itself can just sit in the corner of your kitchen awaiting your command. The main problem there is that LG hasn't announced how much this fridge will cost; it's almost certainly going to be more than the cost of adding an Amazon Echo to your current kitchen setup or even the cost of an Echo plus a new dumb fridge that just sits there and keeps food cold without connecting to your network. Other potentially useful additions include "stickers and tags" you attach to specific items in the fridge to denote what food is stored where and when it expires, which lets the fridge generate alerts when foods are close to spoiling. A wide-angle camera mounted inside the fridge lets you look inside your fridge remotely just in case you think you left something off your grocery list.

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