LG SmartThinQ sensor makes old appliances Internet-aware

Attaching a sensor to aging appliances may not be as silly as it seems.


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In the race to bring Internet connectivity to every appliance in your house, LG is taking a shortcut with the SmartThinQ sensor.

The circular device includes temperature and motion sensors, and sticks onto standard home appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. The idea is to deliver basic status updates about those appliances over the Internet.

For instance, attaching SmartThinQ to a dryer would allow it to detect the machine’s vibration, and let you know when it’s time to take out the laundry. A refrigerator attachment could tell you how many times the door is opened. (LG also says it can tell when a food item is almost expired, though it’s unclear how this would work.)

LG says that SmartThinQ can even remotely control certain devices, such as air conditioners. Presumably this would only work with devices that operate through a basic power on/off switch, though again the details are a bit hazy here. LG says it will offer its own SmartThinQ app for monitoring and controlling various appliances. There’s no word on pricing or availability for the sensors.

Rather than hooking into existing smart home platforms, LG is hitching its wagon to AllJoyn, an open-source app framework that aims to make all connected devices work in harmony. Of course, in doing so it’s also competing with other frameworks such as the open-source IoTivity and Google’s Weave.

Why this matters: A device like SmartThinQ will have major limitations, as it can’t possibly offer the fine-grained controls and intelligence of a proper connected appliance. Still, a separate attachment avoids the obsolescence issues that can arise after you’ve paid a hefty premium for a futuristic fridge. Given the volatility of the smart home space—to which LG and AllJoyn are contributing—a low-commitment device like SmartThinQ doesn’t seem like such a terrible idea.

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