Whirlpool’s CentralPark Connection turns the fridge
into a digital hub with a power outlet (shown
enlarged above) built onto the door. It has an
interface that allows homeowners to “plug and play”
iPods, digital cameras, cell phones, and more.
Whirlpool partners are rolling out attachments that
hook onto the CentralPark, the first being Ceiva’s
Wi-Fi digital photo frame with an 8-inch LCD screen
and built-in memory card reader. Up next: an iPod
dock with speakers from Brandmotion and the Clio
Vu Wi-Fi door-mount tablet PC from Data Evolution,
which is loaded with Cozi’s family calendar and list-making programming.
cooking times, and the oven preheats accordingly while the
microwave downloads new settings. With your empty kitchen buzzing away, you arrive home to find a toasty oven and
groceries on your step with all necessary items for making dinner. This scenario isn’t that far-fetched. In a few years, it may
even be the norm.
Today, however, most wired appliances are simply adding a layer of convenience to an everyday object. LG’s Internet-enabled microwave offers a 20-menu/recipe memory
function, with the option of downloading recipes from an LG-
affiliated website. And Matsushita’s wired microwave oven
(also targeting Asian markets first) is bundled with an electronic cookbook that loads recipes from a memory card. Scrolling
through the LCD panel on the unit, the oven will offer recipes for side dishes that pair with whatever you’re cooking.
Less about cooking and more about lifestyle, the forthcoming CentralPark Connection from Whirlpool allows devices to connect to the fridge, such as iPod speakers, Wi-Fi
computer tablets, online calendars, and interactive list-making
tools. There is also a digital photo frame that can be attached,
allowing uploads from memory cards and cell phones.
“Wired appliances are about helping consumers get
more done,” says Whirlpool brand spokesperson Audrey Reed
Granger. “Most people feel their kitchen is cluttered. The
CentralPark Connection takes everything off the counter and
fridge and interfaces it all in a logical manner.”
But there is a real money- and energy-saving side to what
may seem like a gimmick. Many wired appliances are linked
to local power companies via the Internet. Washing machines,
dishwashers, and microwaves all can communi-
for more details, cate with one another to monitor total energy
see use in the house and cut consumption. They
resources can also be programmed so that the heaviest
energy usage takes place during off-peak hours — making
these smart appliances an even smarter investment. ::