LG had plenty of eye-catching gadgets at this year's CES, from a massive 105-inch curved 4K display to the bendable G Flex mobile phone, but probably one of the most intriguing new innovations it revealed was the upcoming HomeChat service. LG HomeChat will allow users to issue commands and receive status updates from their smart appliances by texting them and using simple, conversational language. According to the company, you will literally be able to ask your washer "What're you doing?" or your fridge “Do we have beer?” and they will respond just as a person would.
Naturally, the service will only work with LG products, but the company seems intent on rolling it out to most of its major home appliances – refrigerators, robotic vacuum cleaners, ovens, washers, dryers, etc. – in the next year. LG stated it has spent a lot of time researching and implementing as many different phrases as possible into its software to ensure users can communicate with devices using natural language instead of learning pre-programmed commands. The company also presented a wealth of examples for how talking with your home appliances could come in handy.
When used in conjunction with the Smart Manager software for refrigerators, HomeChat users will be able to message their fridge from a grocery store to find out what they already have in stock, what they might need, and even if anything is about to expire. By texting a Hom-Bot Square robotic vacuum cleaner, homeowners can find out the last time it cleaned, program a new vacuuming regimen, and designate specific areas of the house for it to reach. You'll even be able to tell the washing machine to start or the oven to begin pre-heating before you get home from work. Again, this will all be possible using the same language you'd use when talking to a person.
HomeChat also allows for broader programs that initiate a series of commands across all smart devices in your home. For example, if you tell your appliances “I'm going on vacation,” the refrigerator might automatically go into power-saving mode and the robo-vac might clean the house at a pre-set time right before you return. The oven may even respond just to say it will miss you.
For now, the service requires the popular LINE messenger app to function, which is available on Android, iOS, Windows, and other smartphone platforms. LG has stated, however, that it is working on integrating HomeChat with other messenger services, as well as other languages besides the current English and Korean settings.