The Internet Home Alliance (IHA), a network of companies advancing the home technology market, announced today the launch of its Mealtime Pilot -- a real-world test of a connected kitchen solution that enables consumers to use network-enabled appliances to simplify kitchen and meal preparation tasks. A cross-industry collaboration involving Internet Home Alliance members Whirlpool Corporation, Sears, Icebox, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard Company (HP), the pilot, which will be launched at the 2003 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show & Conference (K/BIS) in Orlando this week, will test consumer attitudes about remote access and control of kitchen appliances and devices.
Mealtime is the latest pilot in Internet Home Alliance's Pilot Program, which brings companies from various industries together to test how their products and services will work collectively in connected home solutions. IHA says the results of the pilot, which will be conducted for 6 months in 20 homes in the Boston, MA, U.S. area, will help the participating companies and other Alliance members develop and launch new technology products and services. Results of the pilot will be available to Alliance members in fall 2003 and the public in early 2004.
"This is the most ambitious test of networked kitchen-based appliances and devices ever conducted," said Tim Woods, vice president of pilot programs for Internet Home Alliance. "Even more exciting is the fact that Mealtime is the first technology solution ever tested to simplify life for on-the-go, time-crunched families who struggle to find time to prepare and put on the table nutritious home-cooked family meals."
Henry Marcy V, Whirlpool Corporation's vice president for corporate technology and electronics, agreed: "Our research shows that our busy consumers still blame themselves when they cannot provide their families with home-cooked meals. Solving the food preparation dilemma would dramatically open up the market possibilities for us, especially since the kitchen is the command center of the home."
In the pilot, consumers will manage kitchen and meal preparation tasks from an oven, web-enabled refrigerator tablet, web-based entertainment/command center, and WAP (wireless application protocol) cell phone, enabling them to:
put a dish in the oven before going to bed and program the oven to refrigerate, cook and cool the dish for a set mealtime the next day;
adjust (if the soccer game goes into overtime) or cancel (if the family decides to head out to dinner) the oven from their cell phone, mobile tablet, or Web-enabled entertainment/command center;
receive text messages on their cell phone from the oven confirming that evening's cooking instructions ("Do you still want me to have this dish ready at 7?");
call their oven from their cell phone to see if they forgot to turn off the oven and turn it off from their cell phone; and
surf the Internet for recipes and coupons, create shopping lists and print those items or email them to an online grocer for home delivery of groceries.
Following are the contributions each participating Alliance member is making to the pilot:
Whirlpool Corporation, the world's leading marketer and manufacturer of major home appliances, is providing its new Internet-enabled Whirlpool(R) Polara(TM) range, Whirlpool(R) Conquest (TM) side-by-side refrigerator and Web tablet.
Sears, Roebuck & Co., the multi-line retailer providing a wide array of merchandise and services in the US, Puerto Rico and Canada, is supplying installation and customer interaction services.
Icebox, which designs and develops next generation kitchen products and e-commerce solutions, is supplying its Web-enabled entertainment/command centers.
IBM, the world's largest technology company and the global leader in e-Business, was the chief technical architect for the pilot. IBM led the team in integrating appliances, software as well as hardware from the various participating companies to build the solution, which is based on IBM WebSphere Internet Infrastructure software.
HP, the leading global provider of products, technologies, solutions and services to consumers and businesses, is providing printers.
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