LG wants all of your home appliances to think for themselves
CES 2017 isn’t officially underway until tomorrow, but as per usual there are plenty of press conferences and announcements coming though in the build-up. One of the exhibitors in Las Vegas is LG, which will be showing off a new range of smart home appliances that use artificial intelligence to learn how best to perform their sole purpose in life.
You may be scratching your head and struggling to think of any appliances that could benefit from being able to think, but LG has picked out four to start things off. There’s a washing machine, a fridge, an air conditioner and a vacuum cleaner. Each one will, in its own way, learn about you and your home and selflessly try to make your life that little bit more comfortable.
Take the vacuum cleaner, for starters. Robot cleaners are nothing new, even if they haven’t replaced the classic stand-up vacuum in most peoples’ homes just yet. LG’s new one differentiates itself from the dumb robots of yesterday by taking surface images of rooms as it cleans, learning the obstacles that are in places, making it less likely to trip up on things in future. Its robot soul can tell the difference between objects and people and will – and this is a direct quote from the press release – “politely ask that they step aside in order to continue the cleaning process”. I’m imagining a cross between Wall-E and Chibi Robo, which almost certainly means I’ll be disappointed.
The vacuum is probably the biggest risk for anyone fearing a hostile robot rebellion in their homes, as the others are strictly immobile. There’s the LG fridge, which will learn about your eating habits, keeping track of your behaviour like an overzealous relative. This doesn’t relate to healthy eating, by the way – it’s more along the lines of filling the ice trays at the time of day it knows you’ll fancy a cold one. It can also initiate a four-stage sterilisation system to extend food life when it notices temperatures and humidity levels have reached a level that might put your tomatoes at risk.
You’ve probably got the idea by now. The air conditioner is similar, it uses the smarts it was born with to figure out which rooms are occupied at what time of day to ensure that comfortable temperatures can be set quickly and efficiently. The washing machine, meanwhile, throws itself into learning about the local environment and owner’s activities to ensure that clothes are cleaned optimally – adapting the temperature and quantity of water used to account for hard water, for example.
This might sound a bit like a privacy headache, of course, but LG’s president of electronics Song Dae-hyun is confident the products will tread the balance carefully. “Deep learning technology is the next phase in the evolution of smart appliances, and as an industry leader, we have the responsibility of being an early mover,” he said. “But even more important than what appliances are capable of will be how companies behave when entrusted with data. At LG, we believe performance and convenience do not mean having to sacrifice security and privacy. They can and should exist simultaneously.”
Images: Karlis Dambrans and Robert Scoble used under Creative Commons
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