Are Your Home Appliances Analyzing You?


As the internet of things (IoT) has evolved, we have seen connected devices trickle into our homes in the form of thermostats, doorbells, and security systems, but the promise of a smart home is not a reality for most consumers. In years past, technology-driven appliances usually equated to a web panel on the fridge door that added very little to the homeowner experience, other than an increased price tag.

Now manufacturers have taken appliances beyond just web devices, making them into integrated and analytical devices that can yield valuable data and information for manufacturers and consumers.

(Image: GE)

(Image: GE)

GE is introducing a dishwasher that can notify a consumer on his smart device that his dishwasher is having an issue. The dishwasher can then be shut it off remotely before the dishwasher overflows or causes other problems. The device can detect clogged drains, loading issues, and more, and notify the homeowner. The dishwasher can also analyze its own performance and how well it is cleaning dishes. Internal analytics can also assure appliances are running at maximum performance. Some of the appliances can also communicate issues to the manufacturer and send alerts to buy a new water filter or schedule maintenance for an appliance.

GE's water heaters also enable consumers to save money by shutting off their water heaters when they are not at home and turning them on before they return. This saves on the costs of keeping water hot when no one will be using it. The GE smart washer and dryer will analyze a consumer's laundry by telling them when clothes are left in the washer, if the machine needs more soap, or if clothes are sitting in the dryer.

GE is also integrating its appliances with other smart home technology such as Amazon's Alexa. Select oven models will incorporate an Alexa capability to preheat and turn off the oven remotely via any connected device. A consumer can then preheat the oven on the way home from the office or store to get dinner started faster. GE is also integrating with Nest smoke detectors that can shut off the oven if it is producing too much smoke from cooking. It can also turn off the detector in case of a false alarm.

GE competitor LG is also introducing smart technology to its new appliances with remote capabilities and appliance alerts for smart energy consumption.Whirlpool is also marketing smart appliances with some integration to other smart home apps.

While the appliance market is improving its capabilities, the user experience for the smart home still needs some revision. All of these smart home capabilities require individual apps managed independently, filling up the storage capacity on consumers' already overloaded devices. They also need to be updated and connected to Wi-Fi to be effective. If Wi-Fi is down or compromised by too many devices, the alerts may not be received in a timely fashion. For consumers that want different brands of appliances, the management of these apps and their requirements may be overwhelming and time consuming.

There is also the possibility of security issues if these applications and appliances are breached and hackers take control of consumer devices without their knowledge as in the recent denial-of-service attacks involving consumer televisions and laptop cameras. Hacking of these devices could cause issues such as appliance malfunctions or safety monitoring problems that could lead to property damage. Since smart appliances typically come with a higher price tag, it remains to be seen how much market share they will capture given that appliance replacement cycles measure in the years.

What do you think? Are you ready to buy a new smart appliance? Are you using one now? Is it helpful? Are you concerned about some of these new capabilities in appliances and security risks in the homes?

Maryam Donnelly, VP Marketing Services, Impact Marketing

Maryam Donnelly is Vice President of Marketing Services at Impact Marketing. She has spent more than 15 years leading marketing strategy, communications, product marketing, market research, and business development at Fortune 500 companies including Prudential Insurance, Automatic Data Processing, and Travelport (formerly Cendant). She has been a principal at Impact Marketing, a boutique marketing services company based in the New York metro area, for the past five years. Impact Marketing provides the spectrum of businesses with strategic marketing consulting services including marketing planning, marketing communications, marketing management, and analysis. Maryam holds a BBA and MBA in marketing from Hofstra University. She can be reached at maryam@feeltheimpactnow.com.

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Re: IOU for IoT
  • 2/22/2017 4:20:21 PM
NO RATINGS

..

Maryam writes that


 ...  there needs to be value in the connectivity, these new innovations have more value than previous versions, but they are still not advanced enough for me to buy new appliances. That will really be the indicator for manufacturers when they create an appliance so smart, it motivates someone to buy a new appliance. Most people just wait until their appliance is broken unless they are doing a kitchen remodel.


A problem arises when you go to replace appliances after their (increasingly limited) working life, and find that you now must pay a lot more for new techno-flashy features that you could just as well do without. Also, rather than packing in "nice-to-haves" like IoT features, I wish manufacturers would focus on improving existing essential components (e.g., compressors and internal temp sensor systems in refrigerators). But unfortunately I think the new industry culture is trending for less durability and more of the flashy extra gadgetry that helps pump up the cost.

 

 

Re: IOU for IoT
  • 2/21/2017 6:23:16 PM
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I agree, the average person isn't going to spend thousands on new appliances just to get connectivity. They will wait until the machines break or they do a remodel.

Re: IOU for IoT
  • 2/21/2017 5:28:01 PM
NO RATINGS

Agreed there needs to be value in the connectivity, these new innovations have more value than previous versions, but they are still not advanced enough for me to buy new appliances. That will really be the indicator for manufacturers when they create an appliance so smart, it motivates someone to buy a new appliance. Most people just wait until their appliance is broken unless they are doing a kitchen remodel.

Re: IOU for IoT
  • 2/20/2017 5:41:21 AM
NO RATINGS

> Sure, leaving raw chicken and veggies in a roasting pan for 8 hours while at work is a wonderful idea. If you like ptomaine poisoning.

Talk about a digital transformation...to one's digestive tract!

"Ptomaine poisoning"?  I think you might be dating yourself, Jim.  ;)

Re: All together now
  • 2/19/2017 8:24:21 PM
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@ SaneIT.  I think you raise a good point.  The greatest benefit to manufacturers would be if they could get you to buy all their appliances from one source and have one app to rule them all.

Somethings I think would be good.  For example to be notified if the refridgerator was open for too long or the stove left on.   I wouldn't be worried about someone hacking my dishwasher.  I guess an evil genious could make it over flow.  However, I would worry about my digital devices with cameras and other recording devices being hacked. 

Re: IOU for IoT
  • 2/16/2017 11:19:24 AM
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@Lyndon. When it comes to IoT enabled appliances consumers need to apply the same thought process that corporations demand (or should demand) from their IT groups, analytics teams, and business units:

Does the benefit justify the cost? What business/home issue would the technology address?

Let's say that someone wants to network-enable their oven. What would that gain them? They could preheat it while they are on their commute home. Let's see, that would save them no more than 10 minutes vs when they preheat it from home. There's the old theory that instead of just preheating it you could start cooking. Sure, leaving raw chicken and veggies in a roasting pan for 8 hours while at work is a wonderful idea. If you like ptomaine poisoning.

The smart fridge that texts you when you need to pick up butter? Before you go to work, open the fridge door. Is there butter, reasonably fresh milk? Then make a list. You could even do the list with the memo app on your phone.

The oven, the fridge, washer/drier? No real benefit, so go with dumb appliances.

Monitor and adjust heat or cooling as needed? Yes, a business benefit for you. Turn on outside lights (for personal safety and to make the home look occupied)? Benefit! Security camera with remote access? Benefit! (assuming you secure the web connection). Remote control of lawn sprinklers? Possible benefit.

IOU for IoT
  • 2/15/2017 10:46:24 PM
NO RATINGS

..

In addition to the privacy and security issues dicussed, Maryam also mentions data overload:


All of these smart home capabilities require individual apps managed independently, filling up the storage capacity on consumers' already overloaded devices. 


 

And then there's the issue of cost. Packing ever-heavier IoT capabilities into ordinary applicances may provide some modest extra convenience for some users, but it's likely to introduce significant increases to the cost of the product. Likewise there is the possibility of both increased maintenance (more sensors and communications electronics to fail) and higher maintenance cost (repairmen must be increasingly more skilled, with more sophisticated devices to analyze problems).

Maybe I'm just one of the unluckiest appliance owners around, but I sure seem to find that the cost of replacing, say a dishwasher, is streaking upward faster than the rate of inflation, and yet their useful like is getting shorter and shorter. (I have just survived a dishwasher repair episode that spanned about a month ... and that did not involve any IoT components ...)

 

Re: Definitely
  • 2/15/2017 4:33:47 PM
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That's an area where remote turn off would also be helpful for those that forget the stove on! Warnings would be very helpful to prevent fires.

Re: Definitely
  • 2/15/2017 10:32:56 AM
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The privacy issue is certainly something to consider when using these appliances. But, I would go for an appliance like a stove that has lots of safety features in it, like for example turning off a stove burner after an alloted time or setting temperature warnings. As stove fires are one the main causes of home fires, safety features should prevent lots of blazes and give data to the manufacturers about how to make appliances more consumer friendly as well as safer.

Re: Definitely
  • 2/14/2017 11:15:39 AM
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@James true, though if -- like me -- you only order occasionally from Amazon and at other times from Target and other times actually pick up stuff the old-fashioned way in the store, you'd present a less comprehensive picture. The Dash button makes it easier to just let Amazon handle all the orders, and that may be just enough incentive for those of us who value convenience over economy to put all our orders in a single basket. 

BTW you may like Nathan Pryor's tweak to the Dash button medium.com/@nathanpryor/the-aclu-dash-button-16719e446363#.t9427bpvx

Some articles have made it sound like an official ACLU buttone, but it's just his own DIY project. 

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