Smart Appliances Are Even Smarter than You Think

In future smart homes – they already exist – the fridge may order groceries, the dryer could call a repair man, and everything can be controlled from a single location.

NEW YORK – If you thought your air fryer was at the height of high-tech gadgetry, wait ‘til you see what’s cooking in “smart appliances” in the kitchen – and in the laundry room, too.

From app-controlled washers and dryers to voice-enabled ranges and A.I. (artificial intelligence)-powered fridges with cameras and touchscreens, many of today’s Wi-Fi appliances benefit from high-tech amenities designed to make home life easier for you and your family.

While the exact features may vary between brands and models – and some companies call them “connected appliances” as opposed to “smart appliances” – here’s a look at how these modern devices add convenience, peace of mind and can help you get more done.

Remote control: You can easily control your smart appliances, even if you’re nowhere near them, by tapping an app on your phone or tablet.

Or, if you are at home, you can ask Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant to initiate a job via a smart speaker.

With Samsung’s SmartThings platform, as an example, you can prep meals and send instructions to a compatible oven; remotely start, stop or delay dishwasher cycles; or keep your dryer tumbling for another, say, 10 minutes.

Real-time notifications: Not only can you remotely talk to your appliances, but they can communicate with you, too. That is, because smart appliances are connected to your Wi-Fi, they can send notifications to your phone, tablet, smartwatch or other device.

With LG’s ThinQ technology, for instance, which powers several of its home appliances, you can receive an alert if, say, a child left the fridge door open or if you forgot to turn the oven off.

Know that moldy smell that develops when wet clothes are left in the washer for too long? Your washing machine can prevent it by sending a note to your phone or smartwatch that a cycle is finished.

Also note, you might opt to see appliance notifications on another compatible ThinQ device – like watching a show on an LG OLED TV and seeing a pop-up window that lets you know your food is ready in the kitchen.

Smart updates, diagnoses: Smart appliances can receive software updates that optimize performance and add new features. If there’s a problem with a dishwasher, for example, it can even notify the manufacturer about the specific issue, so the repair technician only needs to arrive at your home once, with the correct part in hand, instead of you having to pay for multiple visits.

Some appliances can even coordinate a service call on your behalf.

Or maybe you don’t need a visit from a technician at all. Several Whirlpool appliances are “smart,” including support for a companion app that, among other features – like remotely controlling appliances and receiving notifications – also pushes out helpful alerts that let you know if there’s an issue that may affect performance, and then follow step-by-step instructions and select how-to videos to help guide you through quick fixes.

Energy efficiency: Smart appliances can also help you consume less energy, such as a TV that turns off when it knows no one is watching it.

Or you can use the scheduling feature to run these machines, like a dryer, when energy costs are less (such as later at night).

And with the above example, your refrigerator can notify you if the door was left open or if the oven is still turned on after you’ve taken your food out (which could be a fire hazard, too).

Handy extras: Not only do some refrigerators have a giant touch screen that lets you manage your family’s calendar (or stream music while cooking), but a few have a camera inside that lets you see (on your smartphone) what you may be out of while you’re at the supermarket.

Some can automatically log what you place inside and notify you if something is about to expire.

A few smart ovens also let you scan the barcode on frozen food (using your phone or a sensor on the appliance itself) and automatically set the correct temp and time to cook the meal.

Strong signals: For your smart appliances to work smoothly – and all your other devices connected to your network, like laptops and video game systems – make sure you’ve got a fast and reliable wireless router.

Wi-Fi 6 is the latest standard. Place the router on your main floor, as close to the center of the home as possible and have it elevated for optimum performance.

Those in larger homes may consider a “mesh” system, which includes multiple plug-in pods (access points) to place around the home to help extend the wireless range.

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