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March 15, 2016

Ryan StanzelStaff Writer

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Smart appliances are getting smarter, and we’re not just talking washers, dryers and refrigerators.

Want a coffee maker that tells you when to buy more beans? Need a blender to tell you the exact nutritional information of your smoothies? How about an air purifier that lets you see the process?

All those innovations — and more — were on display at the International Home & Housewares Show last week in Chicago. Best Buy’s appliance merchandising team, which handles one of the company’s fastest-growing categories, was there.

Team members met with vendors and roamed the three enormous exhibit halls at McCormick Place to see where the appliance category is heading. They invited me to tag along.

Here are my highlights:

Things that you might not think are connected

  • Air Purifiers: Air purifiers are the rage. Do they work? Yes, and with some vendors, you can actually see them working. Scan a QR code on the machine, and it gives you a 3D image of (dirty) air particles coming in one side of the machine, and going out (clean) the other.
  • Toothbrushes: This is for real. Connect your kid’s toothbrush to your (or their) smartphone and unlock cool games based on the time spent and accuracy of brushing.
  • Blenders: Connect tablet to a blender/scale for recipes and exact nutritional content for smoothies and other things.
  • Coffeemakers: Turn on the coffee pot from your bed. Some models also track how much coffee is left and will tell you when to reorder.
  • Water bottles: There are connected water bottles/tops that sync with fitness apps. It monitors your water intake for the day, and based on your height, weight and workout patterns, tells you how much you should be drinking.
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Sous Vide

Sous vide is a cooking method where you seal food in airtight plastic bags and place in temperature-controlled water to cook. Many home options are now becoming available. These are also connected machines – you can determine when they turn on, and the exact cooking temperature.

Colors

Colors are crucial in the small appliance category, and Pantone introduced 112 new colors for this year at the show.

Check out the small appliances for sale now at Best Buy, or stop by a nearby store to see them in person.

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