Digital advances are emerging as one of the hottest trends in the home appliance space. Think refrigerators that track your food inventory and expiration dates; washers and dryers you control remotely with a smartphone; robotic vacuum cleaners. "2012 is becoming the year, when connected appliances become more mass marketable and more mainstream," says Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research for the Consumer Electronics Association, which produces the annual show.
The evolution of these new appliances can be traced to the explosion of mobile devices. Another factor is cloud computing, which allows your many devices to easily communicate and sync with one another. Tech savvy consumers want their traditional white-box appliances do the same. In addition to smart technology, more consumers demand energy-efficient appliances. In fact, with higher utility bills and gasoline prices, consumers are more concerned about saving energy and money than saving water and using less plastic, according to a recent study by the Consumer Electronics Association.
The upshot is some of the most sophisticated appliances - some with four-figure prices to match. DuBravac says the market for connected appliances is just beginning. Looking ahead, he imagines a futuristic home, where your digital body scale and refrigerator sync to offer healthy meal ideas and recipes; maybe even a polite, audio reminder to stay away from the ice cream. "Consumers are just now being presented with the opportunity of accessing a host of different information from different devices," DuBravac says.
So click ahead to view some of the coolest smart-tech appliances. But alas, the items won't prepare dinner or take out the garbage. They're not that smart.
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