One of the things that I dislike most about washing clothes is that I always forget to check the machine and my stuff sits there until it is nearly dry and wrinkled up. One geek had a washing machine with a notoriously inaccurate timer and he got tired of having to trek down to the basement to check clothes so he hacked up something to tell him when the clothes were done. The result is a cool notification system that can be checked from a computer.
The dude took an Arduino board and cobbled together a system that replaced the LED light that showed when the clothes were done and notified him over the network. He removed those LEDs and soldered wires to the place the lights used to be and connected to the Arduino. The Arduino unit senses when the lights would activate and shoots a signal across the network.
The Arduino device uses an Ethernet shield to allow the monitoring of the washing machine from any computer hooked to the network. I think you could do the same with a wireless video camera and that might be easier, but admittedly not as geeky.