Tech

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - LIV­ING -

for these spe­cific fea­tures. Af­ter all, be­fore cars were in­vented, peo­ple might have known only to ask for faster horses. “We try to be in­no­va­tive in ways that cus­tomers don’t re­al­ize they need,” Sam­sung spokesman Louis Masses said.

Whirlpool said in­sights can come from some­thing as sim­ple as watch­ing con­sumers open the oven door sev­eral times to check on the meal, los­ing heat in the process.

“They do not say to us, ‘Please tell me where to put (food) on the rack, or do al­go­rithm-based cook­ing,’” said Doug Sear­les, gen­eral man­ager for Whirlpool’s re­search arm, WLabs. “They tell us the re­sults that are most im­por­tant to them.”

Sam­sung has sev­eral voice-en­abled prod­ucts, in­clud­ing a fridge that comes with an app that lets you check on its con­tents while you’re gro­cery shop­ping. New this year: Sam­sung’s wash­ing ma­chines can send alerts to its TVs — smart TVs, of course — so you know your laun­dry is ready while watch­ing Net­flix.

Other con­nected items at CES in­clude:

— a fish­ing rod that tracks your lo­ca­tion to build an on­line map of where you’ve made the most catches.

— a tooth­brush that rec­om­mends where to brush more.

— a fra­grance dif­fuser that lets you con­trol how your home smells from a smart­phone app.

These are poised to join in­ter­net-con­nected se­cu­rity cam­eras, door locks and ther­mostats that are al­ready on the mar­ket. The lat­ter can work with sen­sors to turn the heat down au­to­mat­i­cally when you leave home.

Ch­ester said con­sumers feel the need to keep up with their neigh­bors when they buy ap­pli­ances with the smartest smarts. He said all the con­ve­niences can be “a pow­er­ful drug to help peo­ple for­get the fact that they are also be­ing spied on.”

Gad­gets with voice con­trols typ­i­cally aren’t trans­mit­ting any data back to com­pany servers un­til you ac­ti­vate them with a trig­ger word, such as “Alexa” or “OK Google.” But de­vices have some­times mis­heard in­nocu­ous words as le­git­i­mate com­mands to record and send pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions .

Even when de­vices work prop­erly, com­mands are usu­ally stored in­def­i­nitely. Com­pa­nies can use the data to per­son­al­ize ex­pe­ri­ences — in­clud­ing ads. Be­yond that, back­ground con­ver­sa­tions may be stored with the voice record­ings and can resur­face with hack­ing or as part of law­suits or in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Know­ing what you cook or stock in your fridge might seem in­nocu­ous. But if in­sur­ers get hold of the data, they might charge you more for un­healthy di­ets, warned Paul Stephens, di­rec­tor of pol­icy and ad­vo­cacy at the Pri­vacy Rights Clear­ing­house in San Diego. He also said it might be pos­si­ble to in­fer eth­nic­ity based on food con­sumed.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers are in­stead em­pha­siz­ing the ben­e­fits: Data col­lec­tion from the smart faucet, for in­stance, al­lows Kohler’s app Es­sen­tials, which sells sturdy glass bot­tles in var­i­ous col­ors and sizes, la­beled with recipes for so­lu­tions that can be made us­ing mostly vine­gar, wa­ter and es­sen­tial oils.

“Sixty years ago our grand­par­ents wouldn’t have gone to the store for clean­ers. They would have used vine­gar, bak­ing soda, some el­bow grease, and been health­ier for it,” says Mike Robin­son.

Katy Ki­ick Con­don, se­nior ed­i­tor for home de­sign at Bet­ter Homes & Gar­dens mag­a­zine, agrees: “Just steam, hot wa­ter and some el­bow grease can ac­com­plish a lot.” DO’s: Know the ba­sics about the clean­ing prop­er­ties of var­i­ous house­hold prod­ucts:

—Bak­ing soda is a great de­odor­izer and is use­ful as a mild abra­sive;

—Vine­gar cuts grease, re­moves min­eral de­posits and has dis­in­fec­tant qual­i­ties;

—Lemon juice with some salt can re­move rust stains. DON’Ts: - NEVER com­bine bleach with any­thing but wa­ter. And re­mem­ber that bak­ing soda and vine­gar, while trusted stand­bys in­di­vid­u­ally, are in­ef­fec­tive for clean­ing if com­bined — and to dis­play how much wa­ter is dis­pensed. (Wa­ter bills typ­i­cally show wa­ter use for the whole home, not in­di­vid­ual taps.)

The mar­ket for smart de­vices is still small, but grow­ing. Kohler es­ti­mates that in a few years, smart ap­pli­ances will make up 10 per­cent of its rev­enue. Though the fea­tures are ini­tially lim­ited to premium mod­els — such as the $7,000 toi­let — they should even­tu­ally ap­pear in en­try-level prod­ucts, too, as costs come down.

Con­sider the TV. “Dumb” TVs are rare these days, as the vast ma­jor­ity of TVs ship with in­ter­net con­nec­tions and apps, like it or not.

“It be­comes a check-box item for the TV man­u­fac­turer,” said Paul Gagnon, an an­a­lyst with IHS Markit. For a dumb one, he said, you have to search for an off­brand, en­try-level model with smaller screens — or will bub­ble up ex­plo­sively.

- Don’t use lemon on wood, since it can de­stroy pro­tec­tive fin­ishes, says Sisco.

- Don’t overdo it with vine­gar, which can dull sur­faces, she says. There’s a rea­son that clean­ing-prod­uct recipes call for adding wa­ter. RECIPES: With the above ba­sics in mind, here are a few recipes rec­om­mended by the pros.

Win­dow cleaner: For clean, streak-free win­dows, Con­don, at Bet­ter Homes & Gar­dens, swears by the go to places in the world where stream­ing ser­vices aren’t com­mon.

“Dumb” cars are also headed to the scrap­yard. The re­search firm BI In­tel­li­gence es­ti­mates that by 2020, three out of ev­ery four cars sold world­wide will be mod­els with con­nec­tiv­ity. No se­ri­ous in­ci­dents have oc­curred in the United States, Eu­rope and Ja­pan, but a red flag has al­ready been raised in China, where au­tomak­ers have been shar­ing lo­ca­tion de­tails of con­nected cars with the gov­ern­ment.

As for TVs, Con­sumer Re­ports says many TV mak­ers col­lect and share users’ view­ing habits. Vizio agreed to $2.5 mil­lion in penal­ties in 2017 to set­tle cases with the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion and New Jersey of­fi­cials.

Con­sumers can de­cide not to en­able these con­nec­tions. They can also vote with their wal­lets, Stephens said.

“I’m a firm be­liever that sim­ple is bet­ter. If you don’t com­bi­na­tion of 2 cups hot wa­ter, 1 ta­ble­spoon corn starch, 1/4 cup white vine­gar and 1/4 cup rub­bing al­co­hol. “I tested a bunch of recipes, and this one is hands­down the best for mir­rors and win­dows,” she says.

All-pur­pose cleaner: Sisco, at Real Sim­ple, rec­om­mends com­bin­ing 2 ta­ble­spoons lemon juice, 2 cups of wa­ter and 1/2 tea­spoon of castille soap, such as Dr. Bon­ner’s. For a stronger cleaner, she rec­om­mends mix­ing 1/2 cup vine­gar, 1/2 cup vodka, 10 to 20 drops of es­sen­tial oil and 1 need to have these so-called en­hance­ments, don’t buy them,” he said. “Does one re­ally need a re­frig­er­a­tor that keeps track of ev­ery­thing in it and tells you you are run­ning out of milk?”

AP writ­ers Joseph Pisani and Matt O’Brien in Las Ve­gas and Frank Ba­jak in Bos­ton con­trib­uted to this story. 1/2 cups wa­ter.

Car­pet cleaner: Sisco rec­om­mends blot­ting the stain then sat­u­rat­ing it with club soda. “The bub­bles will work the stain to the sur­face,” she says. Then coat it with a hefty dose of ta­ble salt, which will ab­sorb the stain, she says. “Then just vac­uum it up once it’s dry, maybe 12 hours later. It’s a good overnight clean­ing so­lu­tion, and great for wine and other stains. The key is to blot all ex­cess stain be­fore start­ing with club soda and salt.”

AP PHOTO/ROSS D. FRANKLIN

Whirlpool Cor­po­ra­tion and Yummly team up to cre­ate smart cook­ing ap­pli­ances through a se­ries of over the air up­dates to both prod­uct soft­ware and the Whirlpool and Yummly Guided Cook­ing brand apps, at the CES Un­veiled at CES In­ter­na­tional Sun­day, Jan. 6, 2019, in Las Ve­gas.

ALI RAINER/CLEAN­ING ES­SEN­TIALS VIA AP

The com­pany’s Es­sen­tial Oils used in homemade clean­ing recipes.

AP PHOTO/JOHN LOCHER

The Bread­bot au­to­matic bread bak­ing ma­chine is on dis­play at the Wilkin­son Bak­ing Com­pany booth dur­ing CES Un­veiled at CES In­ter­na­tional, Sun­day, Jan. 6, 2019, in Las Ve­gas.

AP PHOTO/JOHN LOCHER

The Archibald e-gar­dener app, left, and Su­per Sen­sor, right, are on dis­play at the Con­nected Gar­den booth dur­ing CES Un­veiled at CES In­ter­na­tional, Sun­day, Jan. 6, 2019, in Las Ve­gas. The Su­per Sen­sor, over a 24-hour pe­riod, can an­a­lyze the soil, bright­ness and cli­mate and rec­om­mend types of plants ac­cord­ing to pref­er­ences.

AP PHOTO/ROSS D. FRANKLIN

Flo, de­signed by Moen to de­tect wa­ter leaks and wa­ter usage on for an en­tire home and show all the in­for­ma­tion on an app, is dis­played at the CES Un­veiled at CES In­ter­na­tional Sun­day, Jan. 6, 2019, in Las Ve­gas.

AP PHOTO/JOHN LOCHER

The Smart Video Door­bell is on dis­play at the Ne­tatmo booth dur­ing CES Un­veiled at CES In­ter­na­tional, Sun­day, Jan. 6, 2019, in Las Ve­gas. The door­bell al­lows the user to speak with vis­i­tors and mon­i­tor their home.

AP PHOTO/JOHN LOCHER

A man demon­strates the Ovis Suit­case at the For­wardX booth dur­ing CES Un­veiled at CES In­ter­na­tional, Sun­day, Jan. 6, 2019, in Las Ve­gas. The suit­case will au­to­mat­i­cally fol­low the user at their side as they walk

ALI RAINER/CLEAN­ING ES­SEN­TIALS AP

The com­pany’s reusableVIA glass clean­ing bot­tles avail­able in stores and on­line.

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