Clothes Dryers Meet the Smart Grid, Courtesy of Whirlpool

whirlpooldryerLarge manufacturers have been tinkering with smart appliances — dishwashers, microwaves and other devices embedded with communications technology — for years. During the height of the dot-com bubble, connected appliances saw renewed hype, with announcements like that of Sun Microsystems (s JAVA), whose CEO Scott McNealy paired a tablet PC with a Whirlpool (s WHR) fridge. But with the emergence of the smart grid, Whirlpool, as well as other appliance makers, finally seems to be taking some concrete steps toward commercializing networked appliances. Whirlpool said this morning that it plans to produce 1 million smart clothes dryers by the end of 2011.

Whirlpool has already pledged to be able to connect all of its appliances to the smart grid by 2015, but this latest production pledge suggests the company is seeking to move even more quickly. As the Wall Street Journal points out, 1 million dryers in 2011 will account for a quarter of Whirlpool’s expected production. GE (s GE) plans to soon start selling a smart water heater that can reduce energy consumption by half compared to a traditional heat pump.
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What the Smart Grid Could Learn From Facebook Connect

As social media has exploded, web startups building social applications are offering users ways to manage that proliferation. Some, such as FriendFeed, provide a central place for users to aggregate different services, while others, like Facebook Connect, offer tools for federation — a single way to access them all. But the dilemma over whether it’s better to aggregate or federate isn’t confined to social media — companies building out the smart grid and related infrastructure technologies are beginning to grapple with this question, too.
When it comes to carbon and energy data, the purchases we make and the resources we use constitute our de facto “profiles” in real-world networks such as utility grids, roadways, financial systems and business supply chains. Energy and carbon management tools integrate information about our total energy use from these profiles in an effort to cut our carbon footprints. As smart technologies provide ever more data for these profiles, a Facebook Connect-like approach that uses federation, rather than aggregation, may be best-positioned to make energy and carbon management tools more effective, without sacrificing user privacy.
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Telegent Aims to Equip MIDs, Netbooks, PCs with Mobile TV

telegent-video2Weren’t we just asking who wants HDTV in their netbook? Telegent Systems might be interested in the answer to that one. They recently announced an integrated TV solution for MIDs, netbooks and traditional notebooks. Telegent’s new TLG2300 is touted as the world’s first hybrid single-chip solution: it supports both digital DVB-T signals as well as analog PAL, NTSC, and SECAM, plus FM radio. The chip is surely small enough for mobile devices because it can fit on a half-mini PCIe card. Essentially, it takes up less room than some WiFi modules that you might find in a netbook today.

Here in the U.S., we’ve been slower to adopt mobile television and are nearing completion of a transition from analog NTSC to digital ATSC. For now, a USB television tuner is a better fit here, but as mobile television matures here, Telegent might have something to offer in the future.

How Internet-Enabled Appliances Can Save You Time & Money

The idea of the Internet-enabled home appliance has been around since the heady days of the dotcom boom, when LG introduced its DIOS refrigerator and Sun Microsystem’s Scott McNealy paired a tablet PC with a Whirlpool fridge. [digg=http://digg.com/gadgets/How_Internet_Enabled_Appliances_Can_Save_You_Time_Money]

But LG’s “market leader,” which sold for $10,000, is no longer being made, while similar products from the likes of Samsung never even saw the light of day. Such devices have yet to become ubiquitous in the home because, well, who really needs the Internet on their fridge?  Surprisingly, the answer just might be: you. Read More about How Internet-Enabled Appliances Can Save You Time & Money