Home appliances going Wi-Fi

Models show a refrigerator by LG Electronics which supports wireless Internet.
By Yoon Ja-young

Home appliances are increasingly being connected to the Internet. Not only mobile devices but also home appliances like refrigerators are being equipped with Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity), which enables the use of the wireless Internet.

The launch of Wi-Fi home appliances has to do with the increasing penetration of Wi-Fi. There are around 350,000 Wi-Fi zones set up by the three mobile carriers ― SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus. Moreover, homes are increasingly installing wireless Internet to use smartphones and tablets. Hence, manufacturers have started developing “smart” home appliances.

Wi-Fi opened up new possibilities for reliable home appliances not seen in decades. Refrigerators, which had no other role than storing food and beverages, lead the way. Smart refrigerators have LCD screens, through which users can do their grocery shopping. When the food items are delivered, one has only to scan the receipt or the bar code of the grocery item before storing them. As the refrigerator is linked with a smartphone through Wi-Fi, it provides constant information. They even recommend what to cook for the day or the week, based on the information of the contents inside.

“Users can input personal information of family members, such as gender, weight, health, and the refrigerator suggests recipes,” added a spokesperson for LG Electronics. LG has launched smart refrigerators, washing machines, ovens as well as robot cleaners with Wi-Fi functions. It plans to advance into overseas markets this year, launching a more diverse range of models.

The Wi-Fi-enabled smart devices can also be linked with each other through networks. When the smart refrigerator recommends a recipe based on the groceries stored inside, one can send it to the smart oven with a click. “One has only to put the dish inside the oven. The oven will cook on its own, based on the information it got through Wi-Fi, without one having to set the temperature or the time,” the LG spokesperson explained.

He added that the Wi-Fi-equipped smart home appliances can save electricity. When electric power companies install “smart meters” at homes, appliances such as washing machines may choose to operate during times when the rates are cheapest, such as at night.

The LG spokesperson stressed that even with the adoption of Wi-Fi, the focus is on the very fundamental functions of the home appliances. “Our target is to develop refrigerators that most efficiently fulfill their basic roles, of course. The smart features of the home appliances should be easy and convenient for users to control.”

Wi-Fi has become a survival key for some electronic products that have been faltering in the market. Digital cameras, for instance, which have had their market eaten up by smartphones, are increasingly supporting the wireless Internet. Wi-Fi smart cameras by Samsung Electronics, for instance, don’t have to be linked with a computer using cables. “One can send photos or videos they took with the camera directly to social networking services like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube or e-mail them through Wi-Fi,” a Samsung spokesperson explained. It thus eliminates the trouble of having to move files to desktops, and upgrades the camera to a means of communications from being just a camera.

Samsung plans to link cameras with the cloud system so that one can immediately see photos through devices such as smartphones, tablets, desktops and smart TVs. When digital cameras get equipped with mobility, they will then have a competitive edge over smartphones as digital cameras still offer much better photo quality than phones

Source: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2012/01/123_103151.html

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