This sensor can make your dumb appliances smarter

LG wants to make your fridge or washing machine ready for the internet of things with its SmartThinq sensors.

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This sensor can be connected to home appliances to make them a little bit smarter. Image: LG Electronics

Did you ever wish your washing machine or fridge was smarter? LG Electronics has developed a sensor which can be attached to traditional home appliances to make them part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Because consumers tend to hold onto household appliances like refrigerators for much longer than PCs or smartphones -- and often wait until they break down before replacing them -- the adoption of smart home appliances has so far been slow, and not helped by perceptions that the technology is tricky to use. All of this means that it could be some time before there is a critical mass of IoT consumer devices in use. Technologies such as LG's sensor could offer a shortcut.

LG's SmartThinq sensor is a circular device that can be attached to appliances such as washing machines or refrigerators to sense feedback like vibration and temperature -- and send that data to a smartphone app. For example, a sensor attached to a washing machine door could report when the washing cycle was complete, or a sensor connected to a refrigerator could send a warning when a particular piece of food was about to go off, or report how many times the door is opened over a given period. LG said connecting the sensor to an air conditioning unit or other appliance will allow users to control the devices remotely through its smartphone app.

The company has also showcased new home appliances that are compatible with AllJoyn, a software framework for the IoT developed by the Allseen Alliance.

Its AllJoyn-compatible Smart Lightwave Oven allows users to download, update and share recipes via their mobile devices and use their smartphones to set the cooking mode, temperature, and cooking time for a particular dish, or diagnose a fault with the machine and find repair information online.

Further reading on the Internet of Things