Michigan’s Whirlpool Shows High-Tech Appliances At CES

LAS VEGAS — Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp. is showing off a new refrigerator at 2016 CES, formerly known as the International Consumer Electronics Show, that won two 2016 CES Innovation Awards in the Smart Home and Home Appliances categories.

Whirlpool also used CES to showcase other products in what it’s calling a Samrt Kitchen Suite, featuring the use of Amazon Dash replenishment for automatic orders of kitchen and laundry room supplies when they’re estimated to be running low. The suite also features apps that allow families to control kitchen appliances remotely.

Whirlpool also announced a new collaboration with IBM to connect Whirlpool connected home appliances with IBM Watson services, including cognitive analytics, to provide more personalized services to consumers. The collaboration will also focus, in part, on the importance and intricacies of big data; Whirlpool Corporation is using IBM Cloud Business Solutions to harness real-time data and insights from appliances to drive product optimization or enhance and introduce new benefits tailored to consumers’ unique needs.

Shannon Blakely, Whirlpool brand manager, said the refrigerator is based on global research about how families store food — moving the least-used, small items out of the way to create easier access to larger items, improving visibility of all items and reducing the need for re-shuffling.

Every section, every shelf, every bin in the French Door Refrigerator was re-designed to deliver smart organization with greater access and better visibility to change the way families think about storing food.

Key innovations include:

*Infinity slide shelves line the perimeter of the fridge, so families can move small items to the edges and make room for big, high-use items front and center. The shelves are precisely spaced apart based on common sizes of food packaging so that yogurts, spaghetti jars, 12-pack soda boxes and egg cartons fit perfectly. And they glide just as far as needed to accommodate taller items like corked wine bottles and pitchers.
*Industry-first “flippers” allow families to adjust the shelves up or down without having to clear the shelves completely.
* Gallon door bins give families the most gallon door bin storage in the industry.
* From chocolate to cheese to kid’s snacks, a small items bin and “treasure bin” help keep the little items in clear sight.
* Asymmetrical crispers are designed with dividers to display fresh produce like bell peppers up front, and store bags of apples in the back. The biggest crispers in the market were designed to hold common foods and packaging like unwieldy long and wide celery stalks and large plastic lettuce containers.
* A full-width “platter pocket” shelf, which slides out entirely to get to favorite foods easier. It’s spaced from the other shelves at a height specifically for wide, flat items so families have a special spot for brownie pans, lasagna dishes and pizza boxes.
* Bright LED undershelf lights in the EasyView system boast 40 percent more brightness under the shelf to help illuminate even those far-back corners where half-filled condiment jars have been known to hide for years.
* The StoreRight system’s dual cooling allows for fresh and frozen foods to be maintained at the perfect temperatures using sensor technology. Dual cooling also measures humidity levels and adjusts the temperature automatically, without the need to manually adjust.

The refrigerator also features these smart home advances:

* Notifications to users of power outages, WiFi outages, and when it’s time to change air or water filters.
* Customized settings, including Party Mode, which automatically makes ice faster and reduces temperatures inside, anticipating loss of coolness when the fridge doors open and close more often as families entertain at home.
* Consumers who are signed up for Nest Rush Hour Rewards can delay the defrost cycle to off-peak times through the Whirlpool mobile app.
* Through a mobile app, the refrigerator also displays fault codes and schedules service appointments. The app allows customers to check on the status of a request and speak to a customer care representative live.

Whirlpool is at CES in booth 74352 in the Family & Technology Marketplace, located at the Sands Expo Center. More at http://ces.whirlpool.com.

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