NXP Semiconductors, the co-inventor of NFC technology, has used the Embedded World 2012 exhibition in Germany, to show off what it believes could be the next generation in kitchen appliances - a smart washing machine that's NFC and RFID-enabled.
The device is dripping with interesting tech and features, most notably the ability to recognise what fabrics you put in it and then chose a washing programme to suit. It can read RFID-tagged buttons on each item in the washing pile, which tell the machine the exact fabric properties. The appliance then judges whether it needs to set a washing pattern for colours, whites or something in between. It can also tell if something needs more delicate care.
In addition, in-built NFC allows a service engineer to talk to the device through his/her mobile phone. They can perform diagnostics, change its status, upgrade firmware and even launch an app that communicates directly with the manufacturer’s service centre. It's all fascinating stuff.
"Major home appliances are becoming ‘smarter’ by the day – yet we’ve only started to explore the universe of possibilities when it comes to two-way communication," says Jan Willem Vogel, senior director, industrial applications marketing, NXP Semiconductors.
"We’re particularly excited about our new smart washing demonstrator, which brings together our advanced application insights, our expertise in RFID and NFC, as well as our broad-based understanding of the complex sub-systems driving white goods today."
NXP's smart washing machine is only a proof of concept at present, with no word on a consumer release. After all, the fabric detection functionality will only work if clothes manufacturers and fashion retailers sign deals to add RFID-tagged buttons to their garments. But it's still a great idea and we'd love to see a white goods manufacturer pick it up someday.
In the meantime, you can keep your eyes peeled for Samsung's WF457 washing machine that can be controlled via a smartphone. That is expected to hit stores from spring, in the US initially.