Home automation is gradually creeping closer to being a reality. LG has just shown off its new HomeChat service at the Consumer Electronics Show that allows you to send natural language text messages to your home appliances. This means you can use your smartphone or tablet to communicate with your LG refrigerator or washing machine.
Why would you want to? Well, the example LG provides is sending your fridge a text saying “I’m going on vacation;” thanks to HomeChat, it will reply “Should I convert to vacation mode?”
Vacation mode for a refrigerator doesn’t mean it dons a Hawaiian shirt and put its feet up with a beer. Rather, that it will turn on power-saving mode while you’re gone. You could also use the system to tell your robotic vacuum cleaner to get to work, or set the washing machine to do a cycle just before you return, so you can come home to clean laundry.
The HomeChat service works through the free LINE messenger app, which is available on all of the major smartphone platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Nokia’s Asha, as well as desktop platforms Windows and Mac OS X.
HomeChat also allows you to upload photos that will appear on the fridge, which could be cool if only some family members are away on a trip. You can even get real-time updates from the fridge, telling you just what exactly is in there, or revealing when that yoghurt will expire. Obviously, you need new LG appliances to take advantage of all this, but the idea of using your smartphone or tablet as an appliance remote control might just persuade you to splurge on the latest and greatest.
Initially, this service will be offered with support for English and Korean, but more languages will be added soon. Check out this press release for more info.