Household appliance manufacturer Indesit is looking to intensify its competition with General Electric with the announcement on July 28 about their new smart self-regulating washing machine.
Developed in conjunction with the Freescale Semiconductor group, the Indesit Smart Washer is equipped with what the company is calling a Freescale Zigbee Node: this node interfaces with the local utility provider via an internet connection with the smart grid which is enabled by ZigBee.
The ZigBee Node enables the Smart Washer to adjust its cycle starting time according to energy costs and energy availability, and therefore reduce power consumption in the household.
Indesit's Smart Washer is still currently in the prototype phase and undergoing trials; a spokesperson from the company was unable to confirm a date for general release or a retail price. However Indesit is currently trialing two other smart grid products, intelligent refrigerators and Energy@home, an interconnected home appliance research project.
The intelligent refrigerators have completed the first round of trials, and 300 will be on limited release to French and British householders for further consumer tests in September.
The smart grid appliance market has previously been dominated by American household goods company General Electric; development of products by Indesit marks a diversifying of the smart grid market and increased competition amongst manufacturers of household appliances.
Smart grids are power systems which deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers, much like conventional power systems. However with the use of two-way digital technologies such as smart boxes, smart grids are able to reduce electricity consumption and increase energy efficiency.