ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Ready or Not: "Smart" Appliances Set to Reach the Networked Home

New York, Mar 22, 2002

Dishwashers and ovens that operate remotely from a PDA, pager or cell phone are no longer science fiction fantasies. An important step in realizing a true networked or "smart" home, was achieved recently by the completion of a Connected Home Appliance standard, pending approval as an American National Standard (ANS).

Developed by the Smart Appliance Task Force of the Association for Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), an ANSI member and ANSI-accredited standards developer, and recently submitted to ANSI for ANS approval, the AHAM CHA-1-2002, Connected Home Appliances-Object Modeling, could pave the way for a Jetson-esque lifestyle in the near future. The group was formed in August 2000 and charged with developing specifications that would facilitate interoperability between appliances.

AHAM CHA-1-2002 is geared for appliances that contain a communications interface module linked to a home network system, which can be controlled remotely by users, telecommunications and Internet service providers and other devices. The development of voluntary consensus standards for smart home appliances will quicken market acceptance of these visionary products. Home appliances covered under AHAM CHA-1-2002 include clothes washers and dryers, conventional and microwave ovens, refrigerator/freezers, air-conditioners (window type) and dishwashers.

The organization's vice-president of engineering, Larry Wethje, indicated that this pioneering initiative was achieved through a consensus of 20 appliance manufacturers and suppliers, who "realized that standardization was an important issue especially in this emerging market." These firms "worked through AHAM," Wethje said, "to agree on an industry consensus standard before becoming entrenched [in] individual company specifications." The group called upon the expertise of communications systems providers early in the development process for critical feedback on the framework of the document.

Currently undergoing the peer review process for approval as an ANS, AHAM indicated that once accepted, the voluntary consensus standard would be available for use by anyone, with no licensing requirements. In addition, the association is considering creating a voluntary certification program for appliance manufactures, which they believe will confer a level of confidence to retailers and consumers that specific products conform to AHAM standards.

"Standards are just good ideas unless products conform to them," said Dr. Mark Hurwitz, CAE. "AHAM's work in developing voluntary consensus standards for smart home appliances with broad representation from industry representatives ensures the best possible result for quick market acceptance and success."

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