Apr 11, 2012 (Bangkok Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Smartphones are vying to make life easier as a number of them can now control home appliances, from lights, air-conditioners, TVs and surveillance systems to robotic vacuum cleaners.
It's the latest development in "intelligent" or "smart home" networks that focus on convenience.
Consumer electronics manufacturers are developing smart appliances to add value to their products.
Electronics.ca Publications, an electronics industry market research and knowledge network, reports the global smart home market is expected to be worth US$11 billion by 2015, up from $5.32 billion in 2010, a compound annual growth rate of 10%.
Thunyachate Ekvetchavit, marketing director of LG Electronics (Thailand), said home appliances are getting smarter thanks to more powerful microchips and internet applications.
A WiFi-enabled digital scale can send data to a weight-management app on a smart TV.
LG's Smart ThinQ technologies added smart features to allow users to manage their home appliances via Wi-Fi. For instance, an LG refrigerator with the Smart Manager function displays the location of foods or keeps track of expiration dates for food and beverages. Its washing machine can be programmed to run during off-peak periods when electric rates are lower.
Mr Thunyachate said people can even turn on robotic vacuum cleaners using smartphones by utilising the attached camera in some vacuums.
There are new advanced software and apps that can be downloaded to integrate smart appliances.
He said LG plans to introduce a new smart washing machine model this year.
"I believe smart home appliances are likely to take off in the Thai market within the next few years," said Mr Thunyachate.
He urged the government to support the development of high-speed internet infrastructure and local content and software applications to stimulate the smart home appliance market.
Gregory Lee, president and CEO of Samsung Asia, said it aims to develop more smart consumer electrical appliances equipped with internet connectivity for TVs, mobile phones, tablets, notebooks, and cameras.
Daren Tay, Samsung Electronics' manager for regional home appliances in Southeast Asia and Oceania, said the company has developed various prototypes for a smart home network.
WiFi-enabled air-conditioners, washing machines and robotic vacuum cleaners allow users to remotely control their appliances outside their homes.
Users of Google's Android or Apple's iOS-based smartphones can access an application that allows them to set the temperature or run the washing machine when they are away from home, he said.
"We plan to launch our smart home products in Australia first, then Asia including Thailand within two years," said Mr Tay.
A smart TV is scheduled to be introduced in Thailand this month, priced at over 100,000 baht, he said.
Samsung recently unveiled its smart TV with innovative interaction via voice, motion and face recognition. Users can say "Hi TV" and use face recognition to log in, or say "web browser" to access the internet, or move their hands in the air to navigate or control the virtual keyboard on the TV.
Mr Tay acknowledged the smart home concept is in its infancy. More education and awareness are necessary to drive consumer demand. "We believe the market could take another few years before taking up," he said.
Samsung's AW3 French-door refrigerator has a small touchscreen for a grocery programme that can manage the food inside.
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