Kitchen & Bath Design News

APR 2016

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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Today's high-tech kitchen appliances are getting more connected – to homeowners through remote-enabled apps, to online information that can enhance the cooking experience and even to other appliances. BY JANICE COSTA Smart Connections t wasn't so very long ago that mobile phones were just for staying connected with family and friends. But today's defnition of "connectivity" has expanded dramatical- ly, with the newest apps allowing homeowners to use their mobiles devices to stay in touch with their appliances from just about anywhere. And that's not all they can do; the latest appliances can connect with each other, communicate with the company that made them, connect online to a vast library of cooking resources or even let users see the contents of the refrigerator while shopping at the grocery store. And that's not even getting into countertops that charge cell phones wirelessly, ovens that text their owner when the food is done or refrigerators that let the homeowner know when their kids left the door ajar. "The connected home is not only becoming more in reach, it's more the norm," notes Brian Bugler, marketing manager of the Milford, MA-based Clarke showroom. "We're seeing a trend toward appliances being able to be controlled by a central platform, as well as talk to each other," he states. There's also an expectation for a constant infux of new and improved technology, according to Jef Rexinger, sales manager at Artisan Kitchens, in Bufalo, NY. "I think that, be- cause of the revolution of the technology we have in the palm of our hands with our phones, the appliance manufacturers are compelled to have technology in the product. It's almost like it's an expectation," he states. "In general, all of the appliance manufacturers are going toward more smart technology," agrees Joe LaBoon, sales for the Buford, GA-based Georgia Kitchens. Cooking appliances seem to be where the greatest techno- logical advances are taking place, according to Pete Hampton, v.p. of the Peoria, IL-based Hampton's Kitchens & Appliances. "Most of the connectivity we're seeing in appliances right now is in ranges and wall ovens, where you have essentially a smartphone as your control panel, and use diferent apps and music services, all from the range," he notes. TECHNO CAPABILITIES While technology has always been a big part of the appliance picture, there now seems to be a greater focus on how it improves the consumer experience, rather than being about adding cool new bells and whistles. Convenience is king, dealers and designers agree, which means the best technology is the kind that consum- ers can easily see the value of. For instance, a new refrig- erator, the Family Hub from Samsung, available later this spring, has cameras inside that can be accessed through a cell phone app. "So, if you're out grocery shopping and you I Jenn-Air's frst Wi-Fi connected refrigerator, available later this year, will feature wireless connectivity and a fully function- ing application for iOS and Android devices. Users can choose from a range of notifcations to receive, such as a door that's been left open or a loss of connectivity. A special mode allows for remotely activating specifc appliance behavior, such as making extra ice when entertaining. The M series line of built-in ovens from Wolf sync with home auto- mated control systems and can be monitored via smartphones. 46 Kitchen & Bath Design News • April 2016 HIGH-TECH APPLIANCES

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