Home Household appliances Modern living: appliances you can really talk to

Modern living: appliances you can really talk to

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Last month, baker Anna Olson and her chef husband, Michael, were driving out of their driveway to a cabin when a beep sounded.

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“My app alerted me that I hadn’t fully closed the freezer door,” Olson says. “It could have been a disaster”

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LG Electronics Canada Home Brand Ambassador Olson describes smart technology in the kitchen as a natural extension of how we use it elsewhere.

“We use technology to listen to music by voice command and to check the weather,” says Olson. “Why shouldn’t we log in with our devices and tell them to make more ice cream when we have people over? Or tell us when we need to change the water filter or start a dishwashing cycle? »

In addition to the InstaView fridge that alerted Olson from his driveway, LG has launched a suite of smart appliances that can be controlled via an app: the TrueSteam dishwasher; a ProBake Convection slide-in range with air sous vide and air frying; and a WashTower washer/dryer combo.

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According to a survey commissioned by LG, 60% of Canadians agree that household chores are a burden and that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. For 20% of Canadians, the burden of household chores is so important that it has an impact on their general mood and their level of stress and/or anxiety.

If sprinting away from the conversation during a dinner party to put the crostini in the oven adds to that burden, there’s LG’s ProBake oven, which lights up with voice command.

Samsung's steamer cabinet, the AirDresser, is Wi-Fi connected and can be activated via an app.  The unit plugs into a standard 120V outlet and no water line is required, making it easy to install in a closet.
Samsung’s steamer cabinet, the AirDresser, is Wi-Fi connected and can be activated via an app. The unit plugs into a standard 120V outlet and no water line is required, making it easy to install in a closet. Photo by Photo courtesy of Samsung

Other brands are also joining the action. Both Samsung and LG have steam closets — the AirDresser and Styler — intended for dry-clean-only clothes and anything you want to throw in there, including stinky sneakers. The devices are Wi-Fi enabled, allowing remote control.

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Such a steam cabinet is often used at Melissa Maker. Maker, the brainchild of popular cleaning company Clean My Space, throws away everything that needs to be sanitized, including her daughter’s stuffed animals.

Maker is a fan of smart devices “because my energy and water bills can be reduced,” she says. “(I can) manage appliances without having to be physically in the room they are in. I often remotely start the washer that I forgot to turn on.”

Samsung’s range of bespoke appliances, meanwhile, connect to the Samsung app, which allows users to set temperatures and cooking times or run a dishwashing cycle remotely. It can also be yelled at using a voice assistant such as Samsung’s Bixby or Amazon’s Alexa. The voice command “turn off the oven” – which can be checked on the app – is a godsend for neurotics everywhere.

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Delta, meanwhile, has designed a VoiceIQ faucet that pairs with a connected voice-activated home device like Alexa. It can be called upon to dispense exact amounts of water: one cup or six ounces, or the dog’s bowl, while features like water heating and voice-activated on/off lend a hand if the yours is contaminated with raw chicken.

LG's InstaView refrigerator communicates with owners remotely, notifying them if any of its doors are ajar.
LG’s InstaView refrigerator communicates with owners remotely, notifying them if any of its doors are ajar. Photo by Photo Courtesy LG

Another home appliance brand investing in smart technology is Bosch. Its proprietary system, Home Connect, is open source and constantly updated. “Other developers can write apps to work with. Tesla, for example,” says Steve Preiner, Bosch brand marketing manager.

“That’s good because the whole idea of ​​connected devices performs two functions: monitoring and control. If you’re standing in line at the grocery store with a frozen pizza and want to preheat your oven so it’s ready by the time you get home, you can do that from your phone as a practical use case,” says -he ; this is the control part.

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“The monitoring can come from your dishwasher,” he says. If you’re out with guests, a smart model eliminates the need to get up and physically check to see if clean glasses are ready.

“The same goes for laundry,” says Preiner. “If you live in a four-story townhouse, you don’t have to run to the washing machine or listen to the ringtone. And you can listen to your favorite song to be notified when it’s ready.

High-tech devices, however, have more systems that can fail. But as Preiner sees it, they’re like a fiber optic TV. “If you need service, when you register your product, we can connect you to it and run diagnostics remotely,” says Preiner. “And if it’s something really simple that’s causing an error code, like your dishwasher filter that needs to be rinsed out, maybe avoid a service call.”

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Still, Nathan Lui, owner of Toronto-based repair company Appliance Heroes, cautions against jumping on the smart appliance bandwagon without doing your research. “They are extraordinarily unreliable, complex and difficult to repair,” says Lui, who adds that he has been called in to repair smart devices that are just over a year old, after the warranty expired.

That said, smart devices don’t make up the majority of device types Liu sees, but he thinks that’s “because they’re not as popular yet.”

“You’ve probably heard that modern devices are unreliable and built for obsolescence. Every word is true,” says Lui, who is frustrated with the environmental impact of today’s devices in general.

“The devices I always recommend people buy are analog, simple, mechanical,” Lui says. “No fancy features. Just (less) things going wrong. They just last longer.

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