This week at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, Whirlpool is helping attendees imagine the future of a fully connected home ecosystem — from smart products such as the first connected, donation-enabled laundry pair, to a socially networked kitchen environment concept with smarter surfaces.
“We’re using technology’s biggest stage to showcase what our design team does best — visualizing the future of appliance technology that has yet to be invented and its influence on the home,” said Brett Dibkey, VP and general manager of Integrated Business Units for Whirlpool Corporation. “We take special care to merge our designs with cultural observations. A lot of people are connecting a lot of ‘things,’ but very few are creating true consumer value. Whirlpool brand’s purposeful use of technology does not get in the way, it points the way.”
The Socially Networked Kitchen
Expanding on its popular digital cooktop concept at last year’s show, the company is projecting the future of the kitchen with the debut of the Interactive Kitchen of the Future 2.0 — a concept cooking environment and fully connected social media hub that syncs all of your devices and kitchen appliances. In a conceptual demonstration at the show, Whirlpool is illustrating the potential of an interactive backsplash and cooktop that connects you to your social networks, favorite websites, and recipes for customized meal and guest planning, without added devices or books.
The interactive backsplash with personalized touch screens also enables live “chats” with mom for her secret tips and tricks, an oven that will turn on just in time to ensure dinner is ready, and a refrigerator that sends an alert notification when food is at its freshest.
The demonstration envisions the whole suite of appliances predicting and adjusting needs and actions based on the task. Using information from other devices and connected appliances to assist, the system auto-adapts to any cooking curveballs, such as using ingredients already inventoried in your fridge, accommodating last-minute guests tracked via GPS, even making wine recommendations based on the selected meal — all displayed vividly on the backsplash.
Connectivity with a Conscience
Outside of the kitchen, Whirlpool is displaying its creative use of technology in its next-generation Smart Top Load Washer and Dryer, designed to reflect how modern families give and get care on a daily basis. The Smart Top Load extends the award-winning ‘Works with Nest’ collaboration — an extension of the companies’ work in the My Energi Lifestyle program — to the laundry room. In addition to home and away controls that help prevent wrinkles and delay cycles when energy costs are high, the new top load triggers a quiet mode within the Whirlpool® Mobile app while at home for a little extra peace when you really need it. Users can also access custom wash cycles direct from Whirlpool Corporation engineers — including, for example, cycles for high-performance athletic wear, comforters, baby clothes, hand-wash fabrics and more.
Whirlpool has also found a way to turn a seemingly mundane chore, laundry, into an act of love that benefits Habitat for Humanity through the new Connect to care™ program on the Whirlpool® Mobile app. This program enables Smart Top users to automate donations to Habitat for Humanity (a longstanding Whirlpool partner) with every load of laundry. Whirlpool says that by doing what most families do daily, its customers can now help other families thrive, which exemplifies that the best technology should make us more human.
“Whirlpool has thrived for more than a century because our innovations come straight from the heart of consumers,” said Jon Hall, senior brand manager, Whirlpool brand. “We’re committed to bringing to life technology with a true human touch. We study how individuals give and get care, and never use technology in a product that does not provide a useful, real benefit to the person using it.”
Prior to the show, Whirlpool appliances won top honors with six CES Innovation Awards, including the Whirlpool® Smart Top Load Washer and Dryer, which will be available to consumers this Spring.
Fellow My Energi Lifestyle collaborator Ford is also at CES this week, showcasing a host of innovations aimed at enabling smarter mobility options around the world, along with two new research projects aimed at maximizing energy efficiency in the home: Ford and Nest are collaborating on an app that helps users manage energy costs and usage, which will switch to "Away Mode" when a user leaves the home and set the house temperature when the vehicle is approaching home again; and Ford is also developing a “green energy” app, which will track when renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are most active on the grid, to help users schedule charging during these periods.