Internet Home Alliance, the connected home research group behind Mealtime, the pilot that tested how a connected kitchen can simplify meal preparation tasks, is embarking on a new study to see how technology can ease another time-consuming home chore: laundry.
The study, called Laundry Time, will determine how effective an "intelligent" laundry solution is at simplifying and saving time on laundry tasks while also uncovering consumer attitudes about remote access and control of laundry appliances. An open collaboration involving some of the nation's top technology and consumer products companies, the study includes products, services and intelligence from Whirlpool Corporation, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Panasonic and Procter & Gamble.
To be conducted in Atlanta homes between today and early September, Laundry Time is built around a connected laundry solution that links a washer and dryer to a home network and sends text messages about the laundry's progress to a computer, TV and/or cell phone. This revolutionary technology enables consumers to manage the laundry process from remote locations such as a grocery store or soccer game, freeing them up to go about their day rather than forcing them to stay home to manage the process.
The consumer can decide to do your laundry while the family is watching TV. After they start the washer (the system will allow them to implement the process remotely), they relax in front of the TV. Thirty minutes later, an alert pops up on the TV screen saying, "Wash Complete," so the consumer then puts the load in the dryer and put another load in the washer. A similar alert is on the TV when the dryer is done.
When Web browsing an Instant Message alert tells the consumer that the dryer did not start its cycle. The consumer realizes that they forgot to press the start button. Laundry Time asks in the IM whether they would like to start the cycle. With the mouse, the consumer selects "yes," which starts the dryer. While running errands, an alert is received on a cell phone that the dryer is done. Instead of letting clothes sit and wrinkle, a key on the cell phone is used to tell the dryer to "fluff" the load for an additional time it will take to finish errands and return home.
Whirlpool Corporation is providing front-loading, regular capacity washers and dryers and technical support. Hewlett-Packard is providing Digital Entertainment Centers and customer support services. Microsoft developed the Laundry Time software and is furnishing the pilot team with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, general technical support and coordinating cell phone service. Panasonic provided development around the transceivers, TVs and consumer insight research. Procter & Gamble provided consumer insights, focus groups facilities, consumer screening and development lab facilities.
The results of Laundry Time, which will be available to Alliance members in the fall of 2006 and the public in early 2007, will help the participating companies and other Alliance members develop and launch new connected home products and services.
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