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Electrolux Launches Voice-Controlled Appliances
Jul 8, 2003
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Electrolux engineers have designed a prototype of a voice-controlled washing machine, the first in a line of appliances to be tested with the new technology, the Swedish appliance maker announced. Still in the concept stage, the new appliance will reportedly allow consumers to operate washing controls through vocal commands.

Although similar voice command devices already exist, such as mobile phones with voice-activated dialing, they are often "speaker-dependent," only able to recognize a single voice, Electrolux said. The voice-controlled washing machines from Electrolux will reportedly be able to respond to multiple voices, regardless of accents or dialectal influences. The speaker-independent appliances will also be capable of responding to several commands at once, separating vocal messages and providing appropriate feedback, accurately imitating a natural conversation, the company said.

The new washing machine will reportedly understand around 50 different commands and will retain up to 2 min. of vocal messages.

"Voice command appliances are an important element in the Electrolux drive to provide our consumers with easier more enjoyable lives. By removing the need to use buttons, dials and switches consumers can easily operate the appliances with, for example, their hands full or while taking care of other tasks in the room," stated Claudio Cenedese, manage of Primary Electronics, Core Technologies and Innovation at Electrolux. "Reassurance is additionally provided by the appliance when it repeats the commands and requests confirmation."

The appliance is currently undergoing tests and it is expected that the technology will be further integrated into other appliances, including ovens, dishwashers, and driers, Electrolux said. The company also said it is seeking to make the technology available on the market if future testing indicates potential.

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