Espresso-making hair dryers and so forth

Micro_tvSure, you’ve heard of the concept car, but are you ready for the “concept appliance”? According to an executive from Whirlpool, who spoke at yesterday’s “Igniting Buzz” conference put on by The Wall Street Transcript in New York, makers of home appliances are starting to build wacky new machines that won’t necessarily sell but can generate lots of buzz. The exec, director of public relations Audrey Reed-Granger, said Whirlpool started to embrace the idea after it noticed how much positive industry karma an unnamed competitor got for inventing some weird combo-appliance—even though consumers had no interest in it. We don’t know if she was talking about General Electric, though we did find this undated press release touting a GE voice-activated oven. For its part, Whirlpool recently built a microwave that included a flat-screen TV on its front.

—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor