Meet Green Bean, a module for hacking into appliances

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Green Bean connects to GE appliances

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What if your dryer could send a notification that would buzz your phone or smartwatch to let you know your laundry is done? Well, it may be easier to tap into the brains of your appliances than you might think, with the US$20 open-source Green Bean module announced today by GE at MakerCon in New York.

If you aren't keeping track, 20 bucks is a lot cheaper than shelling out thousands for the latest set of smart appliances.

Green Bean comes out of FirstBuild, GE's open innovation and co-creation platform that's attached to a microfactory in Louisville, Kentucky. In non-hacker terms, the Green Bean is a small module that provides the ability to be able to control things like your oven's heating elements or fans, or the sensors in your refrigerator.

"Ideas are only the starting point," said FirstBuild's Taylor Dawson. "By giving anyone and everyone a direct path into the brain of our home appliances, we are endowing them with the ability to reprogram and reimagine the way that their appliances could work. Green Bean is limited only by your creativity and programming skills."

Green Bean's javascript-based SDK is available on github, and allows hackers to create apps that connect appliances to everything from smartphones to a Raspberry Pi. While it's not for average consumers without programming knowledge (Green Bean is open source), the FirstBuild community is already creating and sharing some interesting appliance mods and developing new hardware to take advantage of it.

The "Chill Hub"

Just for starters, there's the aforementioned laundry notification app that's compatible with Android Wear, or a camera mounted to the fridge door that snaps a quick photo of what you're currently stocked up on and uploads it to a chosen device. Other mods include the ability to control the temperature of particular wines or even defrost meat using a custom "chill hub" – essentially a USB hub that connects to added compartments, which can be individually heated or cooled within the appliance and controlled via the Green Bean.

The Green Bean module retails for $19.95 and is available through FirstBuild.com.

Source: GE

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