Smart Appliances Are Coming, But Are You Ready?

It seems like everything is getting "smarter" these days. From front door locks that you can operate with your smartphone, to televisions that connect to the Internet, it seems like there aren't too many things that don't use smart technology. Now, you can count your household appliances in that list of smart stuff, because many of these are beginning to utilize this clever technology to link themselves to the Internet of Things. While some of the pairings between appliances and online technology may sound amazing, are you really ready for smart appliances?

Large appliances

Large appliances are trying to get smarter, but it's hard to see how adding complicated smart technology to your washing machine or refrigerator is going to improve its function. However, there are a few promising examples of smart technology improving these larger appliances, and making life a little easier for their owners.

A smart washer and dryer has been designed to work with your thermostat to adjust the appliances' performance when you aren't at home. The washer and dryer communicate with the thermostat, and when the thermostat is set to "away", the appliances perform functions designed to keep your clothes fresh and wrinkle-free until you arrive back home to take them out of the machines.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to preheat your oven before you even get out of bed? New smart ovens let you do just that, by controlling your oven from your smartphone. You can monitor food's progress and adjust the temperature of the oven from an app on your phone. This could be useful for preheating your oven before you arrive home from work, but there's always the safety issue of having an unattended, hot oven in the house.

Refrigerators offer up a whole host of potential problem-solvers with smart upgrades. One clever refrigerator offers an internal camera that links to your smartphone, so you can see the contents of your refrigerator from anywhere, at any time. No more guessing about whether or not you're out of something; just pull up the camera stream on your phone and check for yourself.

Small appliances

If you thought that small appliances couldn't get any smarter, think again. There are already a few clever small appliances that utilize smart technology, with more yet to come.

Wouldn't it be nice to set aside the ingredients for your meal, and have it cooked for you while you're at work, so that it's perfectly done when you arrive? One step up from a slow cooker, a countertop unit is set to make its appearance in kitchens that could change the way many people cook their food. The sous-vide machine keeps food cool until you use your smartphone to tell it to begin cooking, and it cooks it how and when you tell it to, so you arrive home to a perfectly cooked meal.

If you like slow cookers, but don't like the lack of control when cooking in a slow cooker, then consider upgrading to a smarter version. With an app that lets you adjust the temperature and cooking time of your slow cooker from anywhere, you can produce perfectly cooked meals without any hassle. 

Although coffee makers with timers have been around a while, today's new smart coffee makers take things a step further. Using an app on your smartphone, you can tell your coffee maker to grind and brew a single cup of coffee, or an entire pot, precisely when you need it. You can arrive home to fresh coffee, even when you're running late, or wake up to it first thing in the morning.

The biggest problems consumers face when using smart appliances (besides lack of WI-FI impairing their function) is the fact that repairs could be more complicated and costly. If you're willing to accept the more complicated repairs, and if you're happy with the functions these appliances provide, you may be ready for smart appliances. Otherwise, it might just pay to wait a little longer for their future versions, which are bound to be even more impressive.