Thalia Interconnected Appliances
A complete family of products for the home
by Rick Smith (February 2, 2001)
Thalia continues to work on their Home Linking Technology (HLT) that they featured at last year's Housewares Show. The greatest feature of this technology is that it requires no software to install, no programming and no home rewiring. AC powered devices communicate via PLC (power line communication) while battery operated devices communicate wirelessly via RF (Radio Frequency).
Currently, the Housewares industry, along with the "computer" industry, is now facing the issue of creating an interconnectivity standard and communication protocol. Consumers won't buy these new "intelligent" appliances if they can't communicate with other "intelligent" devices that they purchased previously. Devices from different manufacturers have to function together and "play nice". If this doesn't happen, and devices aren't all compatible, consumers will be faced with the nightmarish situation of having certain "clusters" of intercommunicating appliances that "speak" amongst themselves, but not to others. This horrid situation would probably also require a kitchen-full of "master consoles", since each protocol requires its own controller. Few consumers would put up with this. Let's hope this becomes resolved soon.
It appears that Thalia has taken a step back this year to work on this problem and to help create a good industry-wide standard. Products have changed as well as management. Consequently, its presence at the 2001 show was only a small display in the Sunbeam booth. (Last year, they had large, two room, enclosed "house" on the show floor, where their CEO gave personal tours and demonstrated the technology.)
Once the protocol issues become resolved, these "intelligent" housewares products will still have to perform their intended function. Thalia and its licensees have created their second generation of interconnected devices. Here is a brief look at some of them.
Thalia HLT Kitchen Console
This central controller maintains the local yellow pages, to do lists, memos, shopping lists, address book, calendar and recipes. It features a kitchen timer, a 911 panic button and a calculator. Through an Internet connection it can download weather, news, coupons and recipes.
Since it is made for the kitchen it is completely spill-proof. It uses touch screen technology so there is no need for a keyboard or a mouse. Optional accessories are a printer, a PC connection "bridge" and an RF phone module in case a phone jack isn't nearby -- remember the goal is -- no rewiring of the home.
The Thalia HLT Kitchen Console is the master control device for all of the HLT appliances in the home. It can also be remotely accessed via the Internet so you can monitor the status of your appliances and turn them on or off.
Mr. Coffee HLT Coffee Maker
With HLT technology, no more flashing 12:00's after power outages since this coffee maker's clock is automatically set by the Thalia HLT Alarm Clock. The best feature of this coffee maker is that you can easily wake up to a hot cup of coffee in the morning. The alarm clock tells the coffee maker to start 10 minutes before the alarm clock goes rings. It even reminds you if forget to fill it with water at night.
First Alert HLT Smoke Alarm
These smoke detectors not only sound an alarm themselves, they also set off the Thalia HLT alarm clock as well. This is critical, if the smoke alarm is far away in the garage or basement. An icon appears on the clock to tell you exactly where the problem is. If you enter your work or cell phone number, the alarm clock can call you if a smoke alarm goes off.
First Alert HLT Carbon Monoxide Alarm
The Carbon Monoxide detector works just like the Smoke Alarm, but features a digital readout and trendy packaging.
Sunbeam HLT Electric Blanket
The Thalia alarm clock can turn the blanket before you go to bed so you now crawl into a warm bed at night. If you don't have fixed hours, you can use the Thalia HLT Kitchen Console to turn the blanket on manually before going to bed. The blanket automatically shuts off when the alarm clock goes off so you never have to worry about leaving it on during the day. With the Thalia Home, you never have to worry about leaving an appliance running. You can easily check or change the status of any HLT appliance from either the HLT Kitchen Console or the Internet.
Oster HLT Meal Suite
Several different kitchen appliances comprise the Oster HLT Meal Suite. There is a slow cooker, a vegetable/rice steamer and a bread maker. Since the master console has hundreds of recipes, meals are easier.
The night before, you select your entrée, side dish and bread. Your Kitchen Console helps guide you through some simple prep work (many recipes need only 5 minute prep). Food is placed directly in the slow cooker crock, steamer basket or bread pan. You set the time you want the meal ready and the Thalia system takes care of the rest. The console automatically "back calculates" when to start each appliance and at what temperature to cook at, based on the recipe and the number of servings. Now, a warm, healthy well-balance meal is ready when you walk in the door -- this better than a restaurant. If your plans change, you can access the console via the Internet and change your arrival time. If you are worried about food spoilage, these recipes have been extensively tested to insure delicious meals.
Thalia HLT Alarm Clock
This small device is a real workhorse. It functions as an alarm clock radio as well as a simplified household control device. It interfaces with the HLT coffee maker, electric blanket, smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.
© 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.