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Technology On The Horizon: Household Appliances Turn Into High-Tech Wonders

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In part two of his five-part series, NY1's Technology reporter Adam Balkin shows how big appliances on display at the annual Consumer Electronics Show are taking on added functionality.

It may seem odd, but nowadays refrigerators, washing machines and toasters fit in quite nicely at the world's largest showcase of consumer electronics, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Samsung's T-9000 refrigerator is a good example why. A touchscreen on the front hosts apps, including "Evernote," which lets a user update a shopping list on the fridge and the list on a mobile device of someone at the store at the same time.

That same screen can also give more room in the refrigerator or freezer.

"The freezer actually splits in half. Half always stays a designated freezer, the other half can be split between a freezer and refrigerator, depending on the needs of the family," says Lindsay Hughes of Samsung Home Appliances.

Washing machines can send messages to phones when the load is done, ovens set themselves to the right temperatures according to cooking instructions in an app, and even kitchen tables are going high-tech.

A concept product from Whirlpool called the Fireplace, seen above, which has people seated around a table that is cooking in the middle, not with fire or coils, but with light.

"Light as infrared is already being used for heat, but what we're proposing here is light in the right wavelengths to cook food," says Rajat Sheil of Whirlpool. "And what we're showing here is light from the bottom being used with target zones on the cook plate to heat food and cook food."

Infrared light is also the magic behind the Panasonic Flash Express Toaster, a toaster that developers say hits a target temperature the second it turns on.

"If you want to set it to 425 degrees on a regular toaster oven, the coils have to charge up and heat up the air to 425 degrees. But ours, as soon as it turns on, emits 425-degree heat," says Nick Monaco of Panasonic.

It is designed to cook food 40-percent faster. So for toast, that translates to approximately 40 more seconds you can spend before you have to get out of bed each morning.

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