Using a ZigBee-enabled connection to the Internet, a new
washing machine can adjust its usage according to energy costs.
engineers at the Indesit Company, the
washer gets its cost information from an Internet connection to the utility
grid. "With this washer, the consumer has the ability to choose, not only on
the basis of cost per kilowatt-hour, but also from a green perspective," says
Brett Black, senior manager for wireless connectivity operations at Freescale Semiconductor, which helped with
the wireless portions of the design.
machine, currently in prototype form, communicates with the Internet using a
ZigBee communication node that "talks" wirelessly to a broadband gateway, which
gets the energy cost information from the smart grid. At the recent Freescale
Technology Forum (FTF), Indesit demonstrated the washing machine's ability to
display the estimated cost of a particular washing cycle before running it.
"This is the concept of â€˜energy
awareness' - where the appliances will tell you what the price will be before
starting the cycle," says Stefano Fratessi of Indesit at FTF. "Or the system
can help you to choose the best time of the day, when the electricity costs
will be less."
The washer employs an IEEE 802.15.4-based
wireless transceiver, known as the Freescale
. The 2.4-GHz transceiver works with a Freescale
protocol stack and a low-power Freescale microcontroller to
control the washer on the basis of information from the grid.
engineers say they were called in by the manufacturer to help with antenna
design and placement, as well as with creation of a ZigBee-based home mesh
washer is one in a sea of new household products expected over the next five
years that will communicate with the grid as a means of saving energy. Sparked
by government-supported energy programs, engineers are designing new
refrigerators, coffeemakers, dryers and dishwashers, not to mention other home
appliances and HVAC systems, with intelligence that would enable them to use
energy more wisely.
allowing the consumer to make intelligent decisions on when and how to use
energy," Black says. "The idea is for the consumers' peak usage to be in a timeframe
when renewable energy is most available to them."Indesit's Stefano Fratessi talks about the technology behind
the smart washer and how it works.
to watch the video.