LG is bringing a host of smart appliance tech to CES this year, including a new service that lets you control your air conditioner, washer, dishwasher, and Wi-Fi speakers via text messages. Also on the docket? A fridge with a built-in camera that lets you see what's inside—even when you're at the grocery store
HomeChat, which LG calls a "virtual assistant," lets users talk to their home appliances and electronics in plain English via natural language processing. Smart appliance owners just have to download the LINE messaging app (available for most smartphone platforms, including iOS and Android), add their appliances as contacts, and start texting them the same way they would a real, live human being.
For instance, you can tell your refrigerator, "I'm going on vacation," and it will enter a power-saving mode. Or you can ask your washer, "How much longer?" and it will tell you your sheets and towels will be ready in 30 minutes. There are preset modes for Vacation, Leaving Home, and Coming Home that get appliances ready for your departure or arrival.
Though it's still easiest to engage simple functions on your device's control panel, HomeChat is useful for remote control and monitoring, or doing something more complex—like downloading a recipe to your oven, or asking your washer to create a custom cycle for removing a specific stain.
HomeChat, which debuted at CES last year, is already available in Korea and got a lot of interest at IFA in Berlin earlier this year. But when the next generation of LG smart appliances goes on sale in the U.S. in the first half of 2015, it will mark the first chance American consumers have to use the tech.
LG plans to roll out HomeChat across its lineup of home appliances, including refrigerators, air conditioners, washers, ovens, and the all-new Music Flow Wi-Fi-enabled speaker system.
We're particularly excited about LG's new Smart Refrigerator. Every time you close the door, it takes a picture of what's inside. When you text your fridge from the grocery store, it will show you a picture of all the food on the shelves. That means you can check to see if you've run out of orange juice or if those greens are looking brown. It also lets you text a photo from your smartphone to the fridge's external display.
We haven't yet seen the U.S.-bound model, but if it's anything like the European prototype we saw in Berlin, we'll be impressed.
In addition to the fridge, we expect to see a few other appliances. A smart oven lets users monitor recipes and download recommendations for how to cook specific foods—though it won't let you preheat your oven remotely like GE's Brillion app or Dacor's Discovery iQ wall oven.
A smart washer offers remote monitoring and new cycle options, and a smart air conditioner allows for remote control no matter where you are. If you buy LG's new Music Flow speakers, you can even tell them to "play music for a party" or "turn the music off after an hour."
We'll be going hands-on with all of these new appliances at CES 2015 in Las Vegas, so stay tuned to Reviewed.com for ongoing coverage.