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High-tech homes: Fridges on Facebook and smart security

Caitlin McGarry | Jan. 14, 2013
George and Judy Jetson would feel right at home at the CES floor here. With smart washing machines, magic remotes, and refrigerators that blast Top 40 hits, the automated home has arrived.

Now, if you're fixing up your home, you can pick up an Iris package of products and a wireless router to go with your new paint color and window treatments.

Who wants a connected home?

A refrigerator that texts you when you forget to shut its door, as Whirlpool's new 6th Sense smart fridge does, is an impressive advancement. But so far, smart home appliances are slow to catch on with consumers, perhaps because of price, but also because no one is upgrading their refrigerator just to run an app they can already download on a smartphone.

Whirlpool's 6th Sense refrigerator monitor runs on an iPad

But when people upgrade, they look for gadgets that serve multiple functions, according to a recent consumer survey from tech consulting company Accenture.

"Consumers are saying, 'I want the smartest, most capable device I can have," Accenture's Kumu Puri said while presenting the survey results at CES.

So far, those devices are usually tablets, smartphones, HDTVs, and PCs, Puri said. According to Accenture's survey, 36 percent of consumers plan to buy an HDTV this year, up from 16 percent in 2012. Clearly, smart devices are growing in popularity.

But the adoption of TVs that can browse the Web and or smartphones with GPS that can guide you to your destination could bode well for connected appliances, especially as the cost of those appliances drops.


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