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updated 1/10/2013 11:22:26 AM ET 2013-01-10T16:22:26

Home-appliance maker Whirlpool is using the backdrop of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to showcase several concepts that bring high-tech into the kitchen, something it calls "Whirlpool 2020."

These "smart" appliances are nothing new and are already available to consumers. In addition to Whirlpool, manufacturers such as Kenwood and LG offer intelligent and Web-connected appliances, all of which aim to make our lives easier.

For example, a smart fridge knows when that jug of milk is past its expiration date and needs to be discarded. A smart washer-dryer will automatically choose to run when energy costs are cheapest, in order to save money.

Whirlpool has its own solution to connect and manage smart appliances, something it calls "6th Sense Live."

The platform will allow for the remote control, monitoring and management of enabled devices. When it's connected to the smart grid now in use by some electricity providers, it will also optimize energy usage.

Appliances compatible with 6th Sense will begin to appear at retailers in March, the company said.

CES wouldn't be CES, though, without a healthy dose of the future. Whirlpool is showing off several concepts on the show floor this week. One of the cooler innovations is what the company is calling "The Fireplace."

A smart table surface at heart, the Whirlpool Fireplace responds to items placed on it and will apply either heat or cold to those items.

Above the surface is a standard stove hood, which also provides customizable mood lighting depending on the user's preferences.

Another concept on display is the FreshConnect refrigerator. While details of this are a bit slim, it appears that the central concept is to keep different types of food fresh for the maximum amount of time, based on the unique humidity and temperature requirements of each.

Instead of the standard refrigerator, a FreshConnect fridge is made up of various connected bread and fruit baskets, wine chillers, herbariums and specialized cooling boxes.

The temperature and humidity of each device is controlled via a central cooling system, which in turn optimizes food freshness.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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