The crux of LG's story at this morning's press conference? Connectivity is everything. The first step to making your whole home smarter is to get everything talking. Wi-Fi is a perfect first step. Not everyone will agree that appliances need Wi-Fi, but I think it's a great start to a big 'next phase' in home integration.
Why add Wi-Fi to a fridge? A cooker? A washing machine? This isn't the LG Internet fridge, which had a computer built-in but not much else. A Wi-Fi enabled brain means many things. First among them is an easy route to granting remote control to an appliance owner, and then to adding features in future. This is the difference between 'dumb' appliances that will only ever do what it said on the box the day you bought it and 'smart' appliances that can learn new tricks and run new applications like a real computer.
There were a LOT of ideas thrown around in that LG press conference. TVs, phones, fridges, robot vacuums, washing machines, and more. But it all tied together with Android apps that let you remotely connect with your home appliances and make real choices about what they should or should not be doing. And it let those appliances connect to you by sending you messages if there's something that requires your attention.
Even if we don't start sending recipes to our ovens to get a perfect roast. Even if we don't start automating shopping lists and food expiration dates via the fridge. I'm excited that 2011 will see the launch of real appliances that we can interact with remotely and that will be smart enough to let us know something we need to know. Like the example offered today where your oven can send you a text when the timer is up. It's small, but it's real, and it's useful. Bring it on.
I see this not so much as a 'new shiny toys' move, but a maturity step. It's an enhanced backbone that all appliances need for us to get to the futuristic homes we've been promised for decades.
We'll get a closer look at a bunch of this stuff when we hit the stands tomorrow.
[Disclosure: LG sent me to CES]