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Company brings Internet-oven technology to region

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A Cleveland, Ohio, company that's developing appliances that can be controlled through the Internet is setting up a software development office here that will be staffed by 10 employees.

TMIO Inc.'s flagship product resembles a typical kitchen oven. But it functions as a refrigeration unit that, with preset orders that can be changed remotely, is transformed into an oven.

The company is targeting busy, two-income workers who might enjoy placing a roast in the device upon leaving for work, with orders that it begin cooking at an established time.

Consumers could control the temperature of the appliance through the Internet or their phones. That would be a plus for households with constantly changing plans, says Diane E. Valachovic, TMIO's chief operating officer.

"Wherever we have talked about the idea, it has been favorably received," says Valachovic.

TMIO, which stands for Tonight's Menu Internet Ovens, has hired a chief technology officer and plans to hire a contingent of 10 software engineers and chip designers at the Morrisville office, says Valachovic. The company is currently talking with a real estate agent about leasing space.

Founded in 1994 and then placed in hiatus for three years because of a perceived lack of demand, TMIO is readying for a relaunch.

The company displayed its prototype at a consumer electronics show in Las Vegas in 2002 to what it calls a rave response. It plans to begin making its signature ranges at a Tennessee plant in 2004.

TMIO will need heating and cooling engineers, product planning specialists and hardware and software engineers, says Boston-based Aberdeen Group's home technology analyst, Peter Kastner.

Currently, the company is run largely by founder David Mansbery and Valachovic. TMIO is in the process of hiring eight people at the Cleveland office, says Valachovic.

TMIO's ovens "will find a lot more buyers than you would expect at first glance," says Kastner. A limiting factor might be its price. Valachovic says the ovens will be priced in the $4,000 range, a tag Kastner says would put the oven out of the reach of a lot of households.

"Anything that costs $4,000 puts the product outside of the mass market," says Kastner, who believes the oven needs to be priced in the $500 range.

>From Triangle Business Journal

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