by CIO Staff

Laundry Machines Send Status Updates to PCs, Mobiles

Jul 24, 20063 mins
MobileSmall and Medium Business

You sorted the lights and darks. You loaded up the whites, threw in the Tide and set the washing machine to medium. But did you remember to push the start button on the washer before you ran out to the corner store for the dryer sheets?

If the Internet Home Alliance, a group of firms that works to improve the Web’s impact on households, and companies like Microsoft and Whirlpool have their way, such minor issues will be remedied using no more than a cell phone or portable computer.

Three families in Atlanta, Ga., are testing washing machines and dryers that wirelessly connect to home networks to transmit status updates regarding their dirty drawers to cell phones, PCs and televisions, among other devices, the Associated Press reports via USA Today.

Messages can be sent to such devices to alert launderers of when a wash is finished, when maintenance is required—such as cleaning a lint filter—or if the size of a load is too large, according to the AP. Users of the technology can also start a laundry machine or dryer from a remote location, the AP reports.

Fifty-seven-year-old school teacher Peggy Spencer and her family are testing the system, which she hopes will enable her to perform laundry duties from the comfort of her neighborhood pool, according to the AP.

The pilot program, named Laundry Time, is currently examining how the three families employ the technology over a six-week period, the AP reports.

Tim Woods, a vice president with the Internet Home Alliance, told the AP, “When you think about it, it’s just laundry. It’s not exciting. But this isn’t about technology. It’s about the emotional impact of the technology.”

Among the companies working with Woods’ team are Microsoft, Panasonic and Whirlpool, and the system requires a wireless network, two television tuners, and Microsoft Media Server software to transmit messages to the system’s various users, according to the AP.

The system may not be ready for the masses for a year or more, and no pricing details have been solidified between the companies, but Whirlpool says it wouldn’t be difficult to tailor its current machines to function with the technology, the AP reports.

The system could be used in commercial settings as well. For instance, Laundromat operators could alert customers when their clothes are ready to be switched to a dryer or when their loads are complete, according to the AP.

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