They're already doing consumer testing on washers and dryers that can send status information to emails/msns/cell phones. They can also accept simple commands like start, stop or change cycles. I don't believe it's a great advancement in itself, specially because as everybody notes it won't do the load/unload/transfer load that would be really cool ho have.
Nevertheless, I'm excited with this news because its one more step forward in the direction of having the "smart" house. One in which you can have status information on more and more devices, control in a way all that's going on in your house. I'm sure one day houses will have a digital brain. I always tended to think of a centralized way to manage all home related stuff, including probably fridge status, pantry inventory, car monitoring, some gps for family members maybe, home security, internet connection, phones, centralized digital media system (tv, movies, music, all downloadable), air conditioning, computer stations, watering system. I would include centralized financial information, like all bank accounts integrated and integrated bill system (not only the bill amounts and status but also detail such as what I bought in the store last Monday), but I'm sure most of the people would freak out about this one. All this information could be in a centralized home server connected to the outside or just reside on an external web server. Security would be a big issue, I imagine some biological sensor as a secure way to do it. Even if I know the digital print readers are not considered secure, I love having my little ones get into their computer profiles with the touch of a finger, more for the fact that they have a little bit of the future in their hands with the no password approach than for nothing else.