The kitchen is increasingly known as the “family nerve center,” where dinner is cooked, friends and family gather, kids do homework and parents pay bills. Whirlpool brand has incorporated these kitchen consumer insights into the development of the centralpark connection, a refrigerator (Model # GD5VVAXT) with a plug-and- play platform, adding functionality for today’s digital consumer. Forrester Custom Consumer Research says that more than 30 percent of laptop computer, digital photo frame, and digital music player owners currently use their devices in the kitchen — making the centralpark connection a natural step in appliance evolution, according to Whirlpool. The product also helps today’s digital consumer clear their countertops while powering their devices in one centralized location: the refrigerator.

With the life cycle of appliances being significantly longer than that of consumer electronics, Whirlpool brand’s platform offers industry-first flexibility. The centralpark connection allows consumers to update their electronics at anytime so multiple devices can be used interchangeably right on the refrigerator door. Consumers also may remove the devices for a more standard refrigerator facade. Currently, the CEIVA Digital Photo Frame is available at retail locations nationwide. Concepts shown at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show include Brandmotion iPod speaker system, ClioVu web tablet, Cozi family organizational software, and Quartet Qnote Message Center.

“We are proud to be back at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show with a diverse grocery list of new, soon-to-market partners,” said Phil Pejovich, VP of Whirlpool Refrigeration, North America, in the press release. “Depending on each family’s needs, there is a centralpark connection device to help every Whirlpool brand consumer accomplish more with his or her day — from keeping photo displays fresh to organizing family activities.”

Currently, the centralpark connection is available now at Best Buy and hhgregg for US$1,999. This unit syncs up with the compatible CEIVA digital photo frame.

CEIVA Digital Photo Frame: CEIVA, Inc. is the inventor of the digital photo frame and provider of the world’s first and only connected Digital Photo Frames(TM). Designed for the centralpark connection, the frame is Wi-Fi ready and features an 8″ high- resolution LCD screen with a built-in card reader. With on-screen menus, the frame is easy to use and capable of automatically receiving photos sent by camera phone or through an online CEIVA account. The CEIVA digital picture frame is available at Best Buy and hhgregg with an MSRP of $249.

Joining the CEIVA frame, the following prototype devices will make their debut at CES this year. The retail launch date and MSRP of each will be announced at http://www.onlinecentralpark.com as they become available in 2008.

Brandmotion iPod Speaker System: Brandmotion, a current “Made for iPod” Apple licensee, and authorized iPod accessory manufacturer created a self-charging, high-quality iPod docking system with dual stereo speakers for use with the centralpark connection. The docking station is specifically designed for use in the kitchen with four large membrane-type buttons for easy use and cleanup. The docking station is manufactured to securely hold any size iPod and withstand the frequent opening and closing of the freezer door.

Clio Vu by Data Evolution: Clio Vu, a convertible tablet computer utilizing the Clio’s familiar, award-winning 180o SwingTop(R) design, is one of the latest options to help clear refrigerators of sticky notes, traditional notepads and calendars, while keeping grocery lists and schedules organized. The Clio Vu, equipped with Wi- Fi, can be removed easily from the centralpark connection digital hub and brought along for trips to the corner coffee shop or other errands and activities. Using the touch screen, keypad or handwriting device, consumers are easily able to update their schedules and keep track of their home happenings, without the clutter. Also, the Clio Vu will give users the freedom to watch movies and look up recipes online while working in their kitchen. The Clio Vu comes pre-loaded with Cozi family organizational software.

Cozi Family Organizational Software: Cozi, a free software and Web service which helps busy families manage their schedules, create shopping and to-do lists, organize household chores and stay in communication, is one of Whirlpool brand’s latest partners. When used with the centralpark(TM) connection, Cozi is able to provide easy-to-use solutions in the middle of the action, right on the refrigerator. In addition to Cozi’s calendar, photo and messaging features, Whirlpool consumers will find it especially helpful to add items to the Cozi Shopping List right from their kitchen and then receive the list as a text message on their mobile phone, when away from home. With Cozi, families stay coordinated, schedules are updated, groceries are purchased — all in an effort to simplify and enjoy family life.

Quartet Qnote Message Center by Acco Brands: Enables families to share and communicate important messages from the kitchen. Quartet, maker of visual solutions for over 50 years, designed the Qnote Message Center specifically for the centralpark(TM) connection. The message center, made of durable tempered glass, offers a superior dry-erase writing surface and ambient surface illumination to bring messages to light. Interchangeable templates offer customizable layouts to meet each family’s individual lifestyles and unique tastes. A digital clock with date and timer, and a sliding storage drawer to keep documents like schedules and menus handy, are all part of Qnote’s organizational features.

The Consumer Electronics Association named the Whirlpool brand refrigerator with the centralpark connection as an Innovations 2008 Design and Engineering Award Honoree in the Home Appliances product category. The compatible consumer electronics devices and refrigerator are sold separately. To learn more visit http://www.onlinecentralpark.com

Source: Whirlpool Corporation