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Appliance maker partners with IBM

January 18, 2016
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Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corporation is a global maker of household appliances. Photo via

An appliance maker has paired with a technological giant to bring "Jeopardy"'s favorite non-human contestant into homes.

Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corporation announced this month a collaboration with IBM to connect Whirlpool home appliances with IBM Watson services, including cognitive analytics.

“IBM’s cognitive analytics is a strong fit for Whirlpool Corporation,” said Laurent Borne, general manager of Connected Appliances, Whirlpool. “Saving energy and water, caring for their families through mobile efficiencies — these are the benefits we’re hoping to bring consumers. IBM’s expertise in data storage and cloud computing ensures we’ll continue to bring our consumers relevant technologies in the future, as well as deliver new, innovative and distinctive experiences for the consumer.”

Smarter appliances

IBM Watson services also include data management and protection and will aid Whirlpool in meeting the market’s increased demand for intuitive home appliances.

The collaboration will also focus on the importance of big data. Whirlpool will use IBM Cloud Business Solutions to harness real-time data and insights from appliances to drive product optimization and enhance and introduce benefits tailored to consumer needs.

Whirlpool has already begun to introduce its connected appliance offerings to the public, showing off the Whirlpool Smart Kitchen Suite with CareSync at CES 2016 in Las Vegas this month. Made up of three connected appliances — a refrigerator, oven and dishwasher — the suite allows consumers to control select features of their appliances remotely using a smartphone app.

It also brought the Whirlpool Smart Top Load Washer and Dryer to the public. When enabled with the Connect to Care program, the appliance allows users to make a small donation to Habitat for Humanity every time a load of laundry is washed.

IBM Watson

Introduced to the public in 2010 during a highly publicized appearance on the game show “Jeopardy!,” the Watson software system has since been adapted for commercial use.

Watson has been used in the health care industry, and Armonk-N.Y.-based IBM is now introducing its cognitive systems capabilities for public use. Last March, IBM announced its intention to invest more than $3 billion to address the needs of organizations, like Whirlpool, looking to capitalize on the increasing instrumentation and interconnectedness of the world.


Founded in St. Joseph in 1911, Whirlpool is the top major appliance maker in the world, with about $20 billion in annual sales.

Whirlpool employs 100,000 workers and operated 70 manufacturing and technology research centers throughout the world in 2014.

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