When you think about the Consumer Electronics Show, it's easy to get caught up in talk about the newest computer components or the hottest new televisions. That only makes sense, but this year could represent something of a tipping point of technology in areas you wouldn't normally associate with a trade show like CES. Like the laundry room.
I already touched on this briefly on my write-up on CES Press Day, but it's something that is very much worth exploring further. Your computer is no longer bound to your home office. Your Wi-Fi network isn't just for media streaming and web browsing. It's so much more.
LG HOM-BOT: The Smarter Web-Connected Vacuum
Most people know about Roomba. The automated vacuum cleaner from the fine folks at iRobot has managed to carve out quite a niche for itself, but it comes with one critical flaw: it's pretty haphazard in how it approaches home cleaning. It'll roam around and eventually get everywhere, but there has to be a smarter way of doing things.
And that's what LG is trying to achieve with its HOM-BOT. On the surface, it may look like just another robotic vacuum cleaner or floor sweeper. In some regards, it is. The HOM-BOT is this round thing that will roam around your home and keep it clean for you. The kicker is that it features 360-degrees of sensors, dual cameras, and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Maps, Directions, and Internet
In talking with Frank Lee from LG Canada, he says that when a customer first buys and sets up the HOM-BOT, he can let it go around on its initial cycle. During this time, the sensors and the on-board cameras will effectively map the entire floor. It will work out what your floor plan looks like, complete with your furniture, and store this information for future use.
Moving forward, you can program the HOM-BOT to vacuum (or sweep) your floor in a particular pattern. The image above depicts what they call cell-by-cell mode, but there are other patterns too. The HOM-BOT isn't haphazard; it's organized with very clear objectives. It follows directions. Not only does it know where it's been; more importantly, it knows where it needs to be.
Running low on battery? The HOM-BOT will save its last known location, make its way back to the charging dock (remember that it has the location of the charging station stored too), and resume its cleaning cycle when enough of a charge has been fed into the battery pack again.
Oh, and the Internet part? Since the HOM-BOT connects to your home's Wi-Fi network, you can even view its current location, its saved progress, and other pertinent information through anywhere you have Internet access. Those dual cameras can come in handy for keeping an eye on your home when you're on the road too, allowing the HOM-BOT to double as a roaming IP camera.
More Smart Appliances from LG
And it doesn't stop with vacuums. I realize that this is normally outside of the realm of what we cover on Futurelooks, but we also have to realize that computers, web connectivity, and other technology are really becoming much more pervasive throughout the home.
One great example of this is a new line of washers and dryers from LG. They're connected to the web and you can control them using a smartphone app. Want to set a timer for your washer? You can do that. Want to ditch the timer and remotely activate the wash cycle right now? You can do that too. Since they're connected to the web, the washer and dryer are even able to download new cycles and firmware updates over Wi-Fi.
One interesting demo was the diagnostic. If your washer or dryer encounters an error, you can get it to do a self-diagnosis, send that information to the LG data centers, and have them spit out not only what could be going wrong, but also what you can do about it.