While perusing the exhibition halls at the recent IFA 2014 in Berlin, it became apparent to me that there was a major focus by the participating exhibitors on showcasing appliances and technologies that enhance lifestyles. The star products at IFA 2014 were cooking appliances, juice extractors, coffee machines and air treatment products. In addition, the smart home concept of connected appliances was also on show through refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers.
Expanding smart appliances to smart home
While smart appliances at previous IFAs focused on smart features within a single product (ie washing machines with a smartphone), the 2014 edition of IFA saw the concept evolve distinctly into a total home package, ie smart home. Leading the charge, Samsung’s Smart Home showcased the applicability of smart appliances in everyday life, when one is at and away from home, using and controlling appliances via smartphones interactively. Similarly, LG Corp’s Homechat, leveraging on SNS, allows consumers to control/operate their appliances from remote locations. Not to be left out of this emerging niche, European companies are also committed to building their presence in smart home technologies. BSH Bosch & Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH introduced Home Connect, which controls and provides service assistance with ovens and dishwashers, as well as offering a database of recipes and video tutorials to help with cooking. Miele demonstrated its smart home network system, which uses apps to control appliances. As the possibility of a commercially viable launch of the smart home concept appears brighter with each passing IFA, this year, the main concern raised was how to build platforms with appliances across different brands as well as commercialising products in actual markets.