LG Lets Smartphones, Tablets Talk to Home Appliances

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LG Electronics' Thinq technology will allow smartphones and tablets to control and communicate with some of the company's home appliances, including ovens, refrigerators, washing machines and a robotic vacuum cleaner, the company announced on Monday.

The technology and compatible products will be unveiled at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which takes place from Jan. 6 to 9 in Las Vegas.

Thanks to Thinq, users will be able to control washing machine cycles from the office, or change their refrigerator's temperature while they're at the gym, using a smartphone or a tablet PC, the company said. Users will also be able to tell their HOM-BOT robotic vacuum cleaner to start tidying up, feed their pet or use its "viewing function" to keep watch, LG said. More ways to control home appliances will be added in the future, the company said.

An LG illustration of how Thinq works shows an oven, a refrigerator, a washing machine and a vacuum cleaner talking to an access point using Wi-Fi, which then connects to a smartphone.

Thinq will allow consumers to monitor appliances from their smartphone or tablet, LG said. For example, Thinq-compatible appliances will send reports detailing their energy consumption and the associated costs.

Other possible functions include washing machines sending alert messages at the end of a washing cycle, LG said.

Future refrigerator models will be able to send an alert if the door has been left open, according to LG. The refrigerators will also have a memo function where users can create a database of what food they have in stock. The refrigerator won't be able to track stocks by itself, instead relying on the user to tell it what they have added or removed by dragging and dropping food icons on the refrigerator's LCD display or using the voice recognition function.

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