LAS VEGAS — The machines are taking over.
That was my first thought when LG invited me to this week’s Consumer Electronics Show to check out, among other things, the company’s home appliance concepts. Their Smart House vision, as explained to me by LG product insight manager Patrick Steinkuhl, is a group of cooking and cleaning products completely synced up with your smartphone, allowing you to monitor and even control them remotely at all times. For example, while you’re watching the big game in the family room, your oven can send you a text to let you know that your seven-layer dip is done. Then you can pause the game and go get it, or even simply turn down the oven temp until you are hungry enough to get off your tookus. The oven would also store recipes, as Steinkuhl is pointing out in the photo below.
Moving across the kitchen, LG is also developing a smart refrigerator that you can use to remotely adjust temperature and also to catalog the items in it. You can then check in with it from the grocery store to find out if the milk’s going bad and needs to be replaced. We can see this being really, really handy, because if the wife calls to have us check the provisions during aforementioned big game, we can simply transfer her to the fridge.
Also ahead of its time is a washer and dryer that would operate on a smart grid, going to work at off-peak times to save you energy usage and, more importantly, money. And then there’s the in-development cleaning product that just looks really fun, if nothing else. The Smart HOM-BOT with THINQ has a camera that allows it to see where it is in a room, where it has left to clean, and how to get around obstacles rather than smash into them. You can even get a top-down digital view of its activity on your smart phone or iPad (see below), or see what that camera sees, sure to be great news for both spies and upskirt-seeking pervs alike.
All of this sounds really progressive and forward-thinking. As Steinkuhl says, “I love being in the future.” And yet, taking it all in — a home seemingly controlled by a bunch of networked robots — I couldn’t help but fear a Terminator-like scenario. “Are you at all afraid of the machines taking over?” I asked. Steinkuhl shook his head, seemingly echoing Homer Simpson’s view that “trusting every aspect of our lives to a giant computer was the smartest thing we ever did.” But has he seen how that episode ended?
(Steve Mazzucchi is Managing Editor of Made Man. Email him at smazzucchi[at]breakmedia.com.)