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This could be the ‘smartest’ Mother’s Day on record.

washing_machine-240x300The bulk of the $20 billion expected to be spent on this third-biggest shopping event of the year — behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day — will go toward traditional gifts like flowers, jewelry, electronics, or homemade crafts only a mother could love.

However, “smart appliances” that save time for moms, dads — or anyone who runs a household — are gaining a foothold. The global smart-appliance industry is projected to grow from $3 billion in 2011 to $15.1 billion in 2015, with smart washers and smart refrigerators accounting for $3.54 billion and $2.69 billion of the total, respectively.

The same companies that build the bulk of legacy appliances also seem to be leading the smart charge, but newcomers include those making home robots.

Here are four companies at the forefront of  the smart-appliance revolution and how each is competing in the brave new world of smart machines in the home.

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