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Cleaning Up at CES

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | January 11, 2011

Forget tablet computers. Some of the most cutting-edge products at the 2011 Electronics Show in Las Vegas were cleaning devices.

While the buzz coming from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) focused on tablet computers, smart phones and 3D TV, anything that makes consumers lives easier, electronically, can be found on the show floor—including devices that help with mundane tasks like laundry and floor care.

Several leaders in home appliances were touting new technologies that promised to make consumers lives easier via sophisticated washing machines and robotic devices that do the cleaning for them.

Take, for example, iRobot Corp., the Bedford, MA-based maker of robotic products. It used CES to roll out the iRobot Scooba 230, a new floor-washing robot small enough to clean in tight spaces and around bathroom fixtures. It uses something called iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology, billed as the most “intuitive, flexible and effective way to clean your floors.” Software and sensors monitor the environment 64 times per second, using dozens of behaviors to ensure the entire floor is thoroughly cleaned, according to the company.

“The launch of Scooba 230 has effectively made one of people’s least favorite household chores, cleaning the bathroom, a whole lot easier,” said Jeff Beck, president of iRobot’s Home Robots division.

The new iRobot Scooba 230 fits in tight spaces.
Scooba 230’s three-stage cleaning system washes, scrubs and squeegees floors, neutralizing up to 97% of common household bacteria, according to iRobot. The device holds enough cleaning solution to scrub up to 150 square feet of linoleum, tile or sealed hardwood floors in a single cleaning session. A water management system includes an active reservoir that keeps the cleaning solution and dirty water separate inside the robot.

Also in connection with CES, Evolution Robotics’ Mint Automatic Floor Cleaner received an International CES Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award in the Portable Home Appliances category.Mint is designed exclusively for hard surface floor cleaning; it automatically dusts and wet mops hard surface using disposable electrostatic cleaning cloths and reusable microfiber cloths.

Smarter Appliances

More intuitive technologies are big at CES, and that includes smarter appliances. Along those lines, LG Electronics unveiled a full range of home appliances equipped with the company's proprietary smart technology called LG THINQ. Part of that technology is LG Smart Adapt, which lets consumers download the latest options for their appliances, including pre-programmed washing cycles that best fit their lifestyle. In addition, something called Smart Grid can program washing machines to do the washing at the most cost-effective times, according to LG.

LG also talked up its LG's 6Motion technology, which uses six different washing motions to provide outstanding performance and gentle cleaning. ColdWash delivers a low energy wash as good as with warm water, while LG TrueSteam, penetrates deeply into fabrics to remove dirt and reduce wrinkles. The company’s dishwashers also have a built-in TrueSteam generator, which creates powerful, soil-destroying steam for outstanding wash results.

At CES, appliance maker Maytag had the following message for consumers: “laundry pre-treaters will collect dust.” Why? Its new Maytag Maxima washer features a PowerWash System that takes out tough stains and provides better overall cleaning performance while using less detergent, according to the company. The system's features include Optimal Dispense, which injects detergent intermittently throughout the washer's fill time and an “industry first” PowerSpray, which provides enhanced cleaning by spraying the detergent solution evenly on the washer's contents.

"Who among us hasn't spilled coffee on our shirt while commuting to work or dropped oatmeal, peanut butter or jam on our lap while eating breakfast and checking the morning e-mail?" said Brett Oleson, Maytag senior manager, laundry. "If you remember to pre-treat those stains, they should definitely come out. But often times we forget all about the stain and the soiled item gets tossed in the hamper. With the PowerWash cycle, the Maxima washer will go to work with extra cleaning and rinsing to find those stains and remove them."

Maxima’s Optimal Dispense compartment holds enough detergent to power through 36 loads based on 6x concentrated HE detergent. Once the compartment is inserted into the washer, a full-color widescreen LCD display prompts the user to choose the detergent concentration level. After choosing the right detergent, the Maxima washer uses a series of algorithms to determine how much and when to inject detergent into the washer to provide the best cleaning for the type of load. In addition, the IntelliFill water level sensor uses a built-in sensor to match water usage to load size.

To help keep clothes fresh and wrinkle free, there Maxima has a Fresh Hold option with Dynamic Venting Technology (DVT), which allows consumers to let the laundry sit for up to 16 hours after the wash cycle is finished before being loaded into the dryer.

But not every home care device at CES at promised to clean dirty floors and underwear. Oregon Scientific, a designer of personal electronics, rolled out a full line of wellness products, including aromatherapy units, in partnership with Gaiam , a leading producer and marketer of lifestyle media and fitness accessories.The products include Aroma Float—a rechargeable and waterproof aromatherapy lantern that uses heated diffusion to release all-natural scented oils into the air—and the Aroma Diffuser Elite, which features all-natural aromatherapy, six-color light therapy and nature sounds. It has a LCD time display with a digital clock and an automatic shut-off when the water level reaches a low point.The line also includes an air sanitizer that Oregon Scientific contends guards against viruses and bacteria while releasing fresh air. It reportedly uses advanced technology to effectively sanitize and remove harmful odors, airborne bacteria, dust and mold spores that cause allergies and stress on human bodies, according to the company.