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Your fridge just texted: Japan electronics firms pin hopes on ‘smart’ appliances


By Maki Shiraki and Sophie Knight TOKYO (Reuters) – For Japans electronics firms, the kitchen is the final frontier. Companies from Panasonic Corp to Toshiba Corp are diverting engineers and money away from their TV operations and into developing smart appliances after losing out in the living room to cheaper Asian rivals. A fridge that texts pictures to show whats for dinner, a voice-controlled washing machine – appliances like these are being designed to talk to each other via the cloud to cut energy bills. But none more than Japans. Theyve been squeezed into billions of dollars of losses in recent years, caught between high manufacturing costs, aggressive competition from the likes of Samsung Electronics Co and the strong yen, making exports of consumer staples like TVs more expensive.

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