News that Chinese white goods manufacturer Midea Group and the country's biggest e-commerce operator, Alibaba, have teamed up to develop a mass-market range of 'smart' home appliances, which can talk to each other.
The project will see Alibaba's recently-formed cloud computing arm, Aliyun, work to incorporate the technology into Midea's range of appliances, which includes refrigerators and washing machines.
Momentum in the development of smart appliances has accelerated considerably in recent years, with manufacturers working on interfaces for their machines which can be controlled remotely via a smartphone.
Reuters news agency reported that Alibaba had been taking steps to diversify its business in recent times, developing, among other products, mobile banking platforms and mobile games.
And from tomorrow (Wednesday), it said, Midea was due to launch its first smart home heating control system. This will be available through Alibaba's mobile phone network.
The announcement came just days after Alibaba announced it would be looking to float on the New York Stock Exchange.