While a bit gimmicky for many, others will look forward to a new LG text chat service that allows customers to get the most from their appliances by utilizing the popular chat service Line. The service, if you’re in Korea will allow users to ask their fridge to take a picture of its contents when sent a message. LG says that at a later date the service will become available in the United States and other markets as well.
Is there a market?
Suggesting that the demand for such items is very low are a number of experts. “I’m sure 10 years from now we will want more smart-aware appliances, but for now this represents a live beta-test,” said Chris Green, principal technology analyst at the Davies Murphy Group consultancy.
“It’s the equivalent of Ford building a concept car. It’s about showing what can be done and seeing if there’s an appetite for it.”
So, if you find yourself in the grocery store and can’t quite remember what’s in your fridge, simply text the device and await photos of each shelf taken with a built-in wide-ange camera each time the doors are opened or closed.
LGs HomeChat features Freshness Tracker
If a user chooses to take the time to input the expiration dates of the products in the fridge, LG’s HomeChat can tell you via its Freshness Tracker.
In the case of the washing machine, you can activate it by texting “Start washing cycle,” or check on its progress by texting “What are you doing?” This of course only works if you put your clothes in the washer and added soap before leaving the house. Some would argue that because you’ve done all that, rather than texting the washer, simply press start before leaving the house. Then, an hour later you don’t need to as “What are you doing?” but rather you can comfortably count on the fact that it’s probably finished.
The new HomeChat oven can be asked for recipe instructions and told to preheat itself based on the recipe chosen.
Last month saw rival Samsung introduce a similar service under the name Smart Home.
While it would be nice to have your fridge order the groceries Mr. Green points out that that is still a ways off in the future.
“People love the idea of a fridge that reorders goods on its own – but the bottleneck there isn’t the fridge manufacturer, it’s the grocery providers,” he said.
“In order for that concept to work, we need the items that we buy to become smarter themselves. They need RFID [radio-frequency identification] tags on them or something else that makes trackable what goes in or out of the fridge and freezer.”
Potential for ‘mischief’
While some will relish in these new features, security experts have already noted cases where a refrigerator was hacked to send out spam and smart TVs that have revealed user data to hackers.
“It’s the classic science-fiction nightmare story of somebody being able to hack in and control your cooker in the night,” said Dr Joss Wright from the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute,
“The more home control that can occur remotely the more chance that somebody can cause very severe mischief if they can get into it.”