Intelligent, connected and managed with dedicated Apps, the home appliances of the IoT (Internet of Things) market are more and more numerous. Let’s take a look to the news, the tangible benefits and the sector perspectives
By Simona Preda
The home appliances are increasingly connected and interconnected among them, and handable with App through smartphones and tablets. In fact, at the trade fair for built-in household appliances FTK, as part of the Salone del Mobile-Eurocucina, proposals in this area were numerous, some already on the market or ready to be launched. Let’s take a look to the sector and, to find out more, we talked about with some companies, that we thank for the information given: Piergiorgio Bonfiglioli, connectivity group director of Candy Group; Edoardo Pontoni, marketing director of Elica Group; Carlo Busolin, senior product manager kitchen appliances of Miele; Federico Ferrini, refrigerator product manager of Samsung Electronics Italia; Andrea Riggio, marketing director Italy of Whirlpool Group and Indesit Group.
Market is growing
In 2015 for any person in the world 3.47 connected devices were recorded; moreover, Cisco Systems estimates that in 2020 the devices for each inhabitant will be between 7 and 10. According to the 2015-16 Research Internet of Things Observatory of the School of Management of the Milan Polytechnics, in 2015 the Internet of Things market (IoT) in Italy has come to touch 2 billion euro, with an increase of 30% compared to 2014. Moreover, the same survey finds that 79% of Italian consumers is willing to buy connected products. But the diffusion is limited, only one consumer of five has at least one smart object in his home, and the purchase intentions are quite distant in time: only 25% of those who say that intend to buy a product think to do so within 12 months.
Although the market of interconnected devices is at present small, the prospects for the future appear to be positive, that is why so many companies offering this type of appliance. As Piergiorgio Bonfiglioli of Candy Group explains: «Today to propose connected appliances is a must for the players in this sector that have to meet the modern needs of consumers, more and more evolved and connected.» Andrea Riggio explains the Whirlpool point of view: «For us it is important to understand the needs of tomorrow to create devices addressed to the future, but also to the present. For this we have studied and manufactured our 6th Sense Live Technology app.»
«Samsung is a leader in innovation, so it had almost the task to follow this path – says Federico Ferrini of Electronics. – We have integrated our knowledge in telephony presenting an ecosystem of various connected devices, combining various experiences. Consumer must be educated and accustomed to this new use, which offers new opportunities. In fact, with these devices we are trying to create new needs in the consumer, since it is not a market demand.» Carlo Busolin of Miele explains that «the decision to offer this technology is primarily due to the company’s desire to propose to the market high technology and high reliability products. Consumer increasingly requires easy and fast interaction with the outside world, including the appliance. » Edoardo Pontoni of Elica Group adds that «offer the opportunity to monitor and treat the air in the home through a smartphone will certainly improve people’s lives. For this reason, we decided to undertake this research path that led us to the creation of Snap.»
What to be connected means
The attention for smart solutions is increasing. For example we hear more and more talk about smart building and smart city. Intelligent solutions that have the advantage of saving energy and respect the environment more, and thus improve the lives of people who live in smart buildings and smart. The smart kitchen also falls within this framework and, even if they have been speaking about it for a few years, it is becoming more and more a reality, with concrete proposals on the market.
What is it? Devices that communicate with each other and with the people in the family using it and that, through specific and free App, can be controlled and monitored remotely. The use is easier, performance is improved, consumption of electricity, gas, water optimized. Thanks to the interaction, the appliances work as an optimized and self-regulated system, while leaving the user the ability to make independent adjustments. In the market there are range of interconnected devices, but also individual appliances. In the case of range it is not essential to purchase them all, because it is possible, over time, to add new devices.
How does it work? In general, the device has a device integrated that, using few steps, can be connected wi-fi, then wireless, to the WLAN home network, then to the modem and, consequently, to the Internet network. Then, it is necessary to download the app on the smartphone, to manage and control the device.
The practical benefits
Fridge, oven, hood, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher. All the appliances in the kitchen, and not only, can be controlled remotely. But what are the practical benefits that the user can get? To switch on and off the device remotely is generally always possible: for example, after loading the washing machine or the dishwasher, the user can start them when he wants through the phone. Not only, in fact it is be possible to select the type and color of fabric and set in the program automatically. In addition, while the appliance is working, it is possible to check the progress and remaining time. For example, it is possible to know the time remaining to cooking the roast meat in the oven or when it is time to remove the laundry from the washing machine. If washer and dryer communicate with each other, the first can transmit information about the loading to adjust the best drying cycle. Often the user can also get information and tips on recipes, on the best use of the device, but also to be notified if there is any abnormality or come into direct contact with the customer service center. It is also possible to know when the oven needs to be cleaned, when there is no salt or rinse aid in the dishwasher, when the foods in the refrigerator are about to expire. According to the analysis of anyone usage habits, we can also receive customized programs made ad hoc for us, such as cycles for the washing machine. There is also attention to costs, so that it is possible to know what are the costs associated with washing or drying.
Many new opportunities
«Candy was the first company, in 2014, to offer a full range of home appliances equipped with wi-fi connectivity and managed by remote control with the Candy simply-Fi App» – Piergiorgio Bonfiglioli of Candy Group states. «The line helps to solve little daily problems, for example, if you are in the traffic at the end of the day you can start the pre-heating of the oven, in order to prepare the dinner faster or if the washing machine has finished washing and the user is not come back home yet, to avoid the formation of unpleasant smells, he can start the refresh touch command with the App, which starts light centrifuges to keep the laundry cool.»
Andrea Riggio of Whirlpool Group explains that “6th Sense Live Technology is an App that allows consumers to interact remotely with home appliances that at the present moment are washing machine, dryer and refrigerator. Connectivity allows to create products with a long life cycle, which can also be customized over time to create personalized solutions. In fact, the continuous remote monitoring allows us to know in real time what the user wants. The big advantage consists in simplifying people’s lives. The system offers total security guarantee, which also results in reduction of waste: for example, with the refrigerator the App allows to create an inventory of the food inside, setting for each the expiration date: a notification will alert the user when the food must be consumed. ”
Federico Ferrini of Samsung Electronics Italia explains that «our Smart Home App allows to monitor and control various devices, come out at different times, which can be connected to the wi-fi. The system has a unique interface. The air conditioner allows to remote control of the temperature, the washing machine can be switch on and find the laundry washed when you return home, but also to control the washing steps. Ovens, for security reasons, cannot be switched on, but it is possible to check the cooking. The cleaning robot is programmable. The latest news is the Family Hub refrigerator with 21-inch touch-screen interface to access the Internet. It has three videocameras to monitor what’s missing and make the on-line shopping: it represents a new interpretation of the role of the refrigerator.»
«The Miele@Home platform is available on the market and consists of several elements» – explains Carlo Busolin of Miele, «moreover it can also be included in a more complex home network, including lighting control, irrigation, etc. It is extremely versatile and flexible, simple in the installation and configuration, and it is possible to integrate some appliances of different kind. It is based on a ZigBee radio technology, safe and reliable.»
«It’s a consumer who loves technology, who lives a dynamic life and wants the remote control. In addition the technology is accessible and practical to use» – Federico Ferrini of Samsung Electronics Italia says. Carlo Busolin of Miele explains that «the consumer is still belonging to a very small niche market, but is a person interested in using the latest technology, still relatively unknown in terms of tangible benefits.»
Piergiorgio Bonfiglioli of Candy Group explains that «our appliances are addressed to an advanced consumer, always connected, with a quite busy life and, therefore, finds in technology a tool able to really improve his daily life. Candy always aims to offer products that are easy to use and also the simply-Fi line has been designed in this direction: the application is graphically very intuitive and many products feature the menu function “a la carte” that guides the user. step by step.»
Andrea Riggio of Whirlpool Group adds that «technological development has changed our way of living and the consumer is more and more dynamic and interactive. Our 6th Sense Live Technology App is a solution that can make a real difference for consumers increasingly careful to a sustainable way of life.»
The ease of use is a priority factor for all companies, as also Edoardo Pontoni of Elica Group underlines: «In our case in particular, speaking of the air in the home, it is not only a matter of technology but of sensibility to the air subject we feel we must continually develop, offering intelligent solutions. For this we have worked right on the App so as to make it simple and intuitive, both in the installation phase and in the use, guaranteeing ease of use to all types of consumers.»
Washer & dryer in touch
Thanks to 6th Sense Live Technology of Whirlpool, the Connectivity SupremeCare washing machine transfers information on the laundry and on the centrifugal to the dryer, so that it may already preset parameters modes of drying. It is also possible to know the costs of cleaning, to be notified when the cycle is complete and, selecting fabric and color from the smartphone, it is possible to set the program. The washing machine has a quiet, vibration-free and long lasting Zen motor directly connected to the drum.
Excellent food preservation
The Connectivity Supreme Dual NoFrost refrigerator of Whirlpool, thanks to 6th Sense Live Technology, offers advice on its programming and placement of certain foods, for a better preservation. Thanks to the Shopping List feature, it is possible to create a shopping list and an inventory of the foods in the refrigerator, receiving notifications closer to their expiration time. Users can be notified if the door is open, change and activate the settings, including the intelligent defrost that saves energy.
A complete line
The simply-fi range of Candy includes washing machine, oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, hood and induction hob, all connected and manageable with the App. Easy to use it guides the user in choosing the best program to use, it stores frequently used programs or recipes, and allows to get notifications on consumption. Among the offered possibilities: it is possible to start the preheating of the oven, increase the freezing power, activate the hood air circulation. In addition, the washing machine can keep the clothes moving to have always a fresh laundry.
SmartTouch is the Candy lineof washing machines that use NFC technology (Near Field Communication), to allow the user to interact with the device through the smartphone, just approaching it, and thanks to the simply-fi App. It is possible to customize the washing programs by downloading a few tailor-made, have suggestions, even verbally by a virtual assistant, to choose the most suitable function. The Smart Check Up function allows to stay informed on the health status of the product and to intervene immediately in case of malfunction.
Adding clothes when the cycle has started
The AddWash WW8500 washing machine of Samsung Electronics allows to add forgotten clothes at any time of the washing cycle thanks to the innovative Add Wash portholes, located at the upper main porthole: pressing the Pause button the washing machine is put on stand-by. It can be conneced to the wi-fi network at home, and activating the Smart Control function it is managed and controlled even remotely, to activate it, monitor the status of washing and to know when it ends. It features the Digital Inverter Motor and the Ecolavaggio (eco-washing) technology that, thanks to air bubbles that dissolve the detergent, washes well even at low temperatures.
The display is touchscreen
The Family Hub refrigerator of Samsung Electronics has Full HD 21.5-inch touch screen display, which becomes a digital command center for a connected home. Three integrated cameras taking pictures of the food inside every time the door is closed, so, through the smartphone, the user can see what’s there. Through the touch screen it is possible to take notes, post photos, make purchases on the Internet. The integrated stereo speakers can transmit in streaming the users favorite TV program or music from the Samsung Smart TVs.
Flexibility and comfort
The G 6000 dishwasher of the Ecoflex series of Miele can be connected via the WLAN home router to the Internet and, thanks to the free Miele@mobile application, can be controlled and managed remotely. In addition to displaying operation, selection and starting of programs, with the ShopConn@ct function the user will receive a message when detergent, rinse aid or regeneration salt is about to end. In addition, the dishwasher has high thermal efficiency, thanks to the EcoTech heat exchanger with two water circuits, one of which of recovery.
Air under control
The Snap Air Quality Balancer of Elica allows to monitor the air in the kitchen and not only, even remotely with the App, by activating the desired function. Three sensors monitor the air quality, the temperature and humidity, to activate the air recirculation. The device communicates with hobs and hoods of Stream and Téchne lines and operates according to information and their activities, taking action to enhance their suction effectiveness in the kitchen. It is produced in collaboration with Vodafone and IBM.
The washing machines equipped with Centum System technology has a suspension system designed to improve reliability and increase the duration of life. Moreover, they are available with Wi-Fi connectivity. You can start the washing cycles remotely, receive real-time notifications from the washing machine directly on the smartphone and download over 20 programs. Thanks to the NFC connection, it is possible to set the washing program by simply approaching the phone to the control panel.
A digital ally
Home Connect technology allows to remotely manage multiple Bosch appliances: ovens, dishwasher, fridge-freezer, automatic coffee machines, washing machines and dryers. In real-time the App shows the status of each appliance and enables to turn on or off it as needed, but also change the temperature and program. A notification system will alert the user if the program is terminated or if there are no detergents.
Cooking under control
CombiSteam Pro Smart steam oven by Electrolux will be equipped with video camera inside that allows to check the progress of cooking, thanks also to My Electrolux App. Via smartphones, in real time, it will be possible to change the temperature, the humidity level and the program. It also offers additional recipes and allows to post photos of the dish on the social networks. The launch is planned for autumn 2017.