Swedes rent Electrolux washing machines via Internet-linked 'smart homes'

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STOCKHOLM - White goods marketer Electrolux and Swedish state power company Vattenfall are forming a joint venture to develop household appliances that homeowners can control remotely via the Internet.

The partners hope to develop Intelligent Technology Home Products (ITHP) and test them in 150,000 so-called Intelligent Homes by the end of 2000.

Using WAP technology, mobile telephone owners will be able to remotely control home lights, burglar alarms, fridge-freezers, microwave ovens and other domestic electrical appliances.

The nucleus of Electrolux's alliance with Vattenfall is the Remote Installation Management Project (RIMP), whereby homes will pay for the service rather than buy an appliance.

An example of this technology at work can be found in Gotland, where 15,000 homes are participating in RIMP. Electrolux is installing Intelligent Technology washing machines into each home.

Customers pay for delivery, installation, standard electricity charges and a pay-per-use fee depending on the type of program used, but not for the machines. Electrolux will service and change the machines every three years or after 1,000 cycles.

The project is designed to boost production volumes of Electrolux-made washing machines. If the trial proves successful, it will be extended to cover other white goods, such as electric ovens, fridge-freezers and dish washers.

Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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