This week at International CES, I’ve been blown away by so many awesome tech innovations that you don’t have to be techy to appreciate.We are going to have so many awesome things to share with you in the coming weeks, we’re giddy! But to start things off, we’re partnering with Whirlpool, who’s a huge supporter of innovation in tech–and not just their own, which is something I really like about them. They’re sponsoring our three-part post series on some of the biggest innovations at CES, or as I like to think of it, the stuff that makes your jaw drop.
Yesterday I got a big tour of the Whirlpool booth and a look at some very cool new appliances including some concept pieces that will blow your mind. Really. Mind. Blown. was what kept springing to mind all day after having seen their concept kitchen demo that everyone at the show was buzzing about.
WHAT’S COOL NOW FROM WHIRLPOOL:
The Duet Design Series
Take an already highly rated washer and dryer set, then make it prettier. Not a huge tech advancement, but a good sign of how household technology is getting increasingly design-focused and customizable. I love that you can add designs from chevrons to sleek black grids, so that your laundry room feels more like the rest of your home, and less like the pit of despair. In my world, pretty appliances make me more likely to use them, and Whirlpool seems to get that parents really want appliances that look, act and feel the way we want them.
The custom design focus also was evident in a recent regional project in Mexico, in which local artists redesigned the fronts of microwaves.(You can also see me photographing them at top.) It never crossed my mind to demand a prettier microwave and yet…here it is. Psst…bring these to the US! And get Jonathan Adler to design them. I’d be all over it.
Look closely: Even though this looks like an audio system, that’s the top of an actual refrigerator.
Whirlpool partnered with the audio gurus at Harman Kardan–best known for audio systems in high-end cars like Mercedes, BMW and Land Rover– to integrate a premium sound system right into the fridge. While not every family needs this, if space is at a premium for you and you don’t want to clutter up your counters with speakers, it’s a clever option, and another example of how all sorts of tech is coming together even where you’d least expect it.
WHAT’S COMING SOON FROM WHIRLPOOL:
We’re getting to a point where you’re going to be able to control your home appliances from a central dashboard, from your fridge to your range to your washer/dryer. And then to top it off, each of those appliances are going to connect and “talk” based on your own family’s habits and needs.
The upcoming Whirlpool smart refrigerators are going to know just what’s in them–and who’s been sneaking in at midnight to finish the Thin Mints in the freezer. You’ll also be able to do things like see the data from your mobile phone, so you’ll know whether there’s eggs in there or not if you’re at the grocery story aisle going crazy trying to remember.
And that just pretty much summed up my life in one sentence.
I was also fascinated by the concept of a pizza box or a frozen dinner with a bar code that you can scan when you pick it up, then send the info to your stove so it starts preheating in time for your arrival. Just think of the hours of whining from hungry kids this feature can stave off over time.
And yes, the irony is not lost on me that for years we’ve been scared of leaving the oven on when we’re away, and now we’re doing it intentionally.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE FUTURE FROM WHIRLPOOL:
The Interactive Cooktop of Your Dreams
This concept kitchen for me was the highlight of the tour, one of the coolest things on the CES floor, and really the best example of what’s to come in terms of smart appliances and connective home technology. (Can you tell it made me a little punchy?)
Imagine a countertop which can turn into a range when you need it–those “coils” you see in the photo have the ability to disappear completely when you want your counter just to be a counter.
But it’s more than a cooktop.The system is fully connected with your Internet so you can check dinner party RSVPs, manage your Spotify Playlist, consult your online recipe file, or even check email right on the counter while you cook. I totally love the idea that I don’t have to bring my iPad or laptop into to the kitchen to check for recipes or manage my music. No splatters on gadget keyboards=huge benefit for me.
And yes, I had a lot of fun playing with the knives. Because there are some items in the kitchen that just don’t need tech to improve them at all.
Thanks to our sponsor Whirlpool for sponsoring our tech series on innovations at CES. Check out their CES site for their Whirlpool 20/20: Your Future in Focus vision and more cool photos and videos of the teched-out home.