Electrolux, Ericsson See $15 Billion Market For Networked Appliances

Homes in Denmark will take part in trials next year with household appliance maker Electrolux and telecommunications manufacturer Ericsson to demonstrate how domestic appliances could soon communicate with each other. Electrolux and Ericsson hope to create and cash in on a potential US$15 billion market that they expect to involve 20 million homes in the U.S. and Europe by the year 2005. They envision a household where appliances talk to each other through a radio or electrical network and via the Internet, with the world at large. "We plan to take the Internet and the PC right into the house," says Per Grunewald, head of new and future business at Electrolux. A computer screen on the door of the fridge will display recipes based on its contents. The user will even be able to watch a video of a chef preparing the meal with the items of food immediately available. The appliances will be controlled by an e-box, or server, that handles all communications -- phone, Internet, satellite -- with outsiders. Explaining the Swedish manufacturers' new focus, Torbjrn Nilsson, senior vice-president of marketing at Ericsson, said: "The younger generation is less passive than its parents and wants to make use of the Internet. But they also like the technology to be invisible: There will be no dials and switches in your future fridge -- just a computer screen."

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