Moore’s law has increased the processing power of computers year after year. As a result, microprocessors have decreased in size and dropped in prices. It is not surprising then that these smaller cheaper microprocessors are finding their way into appliances such as refrigerators, microwaves, ovens, thermostats, washing machines, and coffee makers. All these appliances are starting to incorporate networking circuitry to allow them to connect to the internet. Limitless applications exist such as downloading receipts, turning appliances on/off remotely, and checking the contents of your fridge while you’re at the grocery store.
How to Network
Most of us probably don’t have any networking inputs near our refrigerators, ovens, washing machines, and other appliances. The question then quickly arises, how are we going to connect all these smart appliances to our Home Theater Network? See the diagrams below to help answer this question. Click on the links for more information on each particular networking scheme.
Be weary of companies that use proprietary networking standards that force you to buy all of your appliances from their company. Also, be weary of companies that require you to buy a central appliance (for example, a fridge) in order for other appliances to communicate. In any case, proprietary software will more than likely be required to control your smart appliance through the internet.
Why Have Networked Appliances?
To answer the “why” question, below are some networked appliances and their possible applications.
- When you are at the grocery shopping, you can use your PDA phone to check the contents of your fridge.
- Don’t know what to cook for dinner? Have the refrigerator scan the items in the fridge and suggest some cooking ideas. The internet connectivity will be used for downloading and updating its receipts.
- Leave notes and message reminders to family members.
- Watch streaming video using the built-in LCD screen.
- Surf the web using the built-in LCD screen.
- Listen to internet radio or music streaming from your HTPC.
- Download receipts and display them on the built-in LCD screen.
- Have the fridge automatically contact your local grocery store when you run out of a food item. The grocery store can then deliver that item to you. (… OK, this is way off in the future).
- Scan in items like frozen dinners or popcorn to get the most optimum cook time. The microwave could use the internet to download and update its list of food items.
- Download receipts.
- Use the networked connectivity to send a message to your PDA phone or computer when it’s done cooking.
- Communicate with smart refrigerators and suggest recipes based on what items are in the refrigerator.
- Automatically programs the clock (no more blinking lights when the power goes out).