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An appliance becomes a smart appliance when it is connected to a central system and able to be programmed or controlled remotely or operate autonomously, based on input from sensors detecting things like temperature, light levels, or activity. Smart appliances are typically designed to interoperate with other smart devices, ideally as part of an overall smart home. 

Why create smart appliances? For consumers, they offer benefits such as better energy management and greater convenience, comfort, and security. For manufacturers, smart appliances can increase profits—not only by delivering products that consumers want to buy and use, but also through new revenue streams based on things like automated consumables replacements or efficiencies of development, manufacturing, deployment, and maintenance.  

Examples of Smart Appliances

  • Smart Kitchen Appliances: Refrigerators, Ovens, Microwaves, Coffee makers, Blenders 
  • Smart Household Appliances: Water dispensers, Vacuums, Washers, Dryers 
  • Smart Lighting: Light bulbs, Outlets, Plugs, Lighting kits 
  • Smart Heating and Cooling: Heaters, Air Conditioners, Thermostats, Ceiling fans, Energy control systems, Leak detectors 
  • Smart Security: Locks, Security systems, Cameras, Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors 
  • Consumer Electronics: Smart sleep systems, Infant monitors, Air care systems, Weather systems

Consumer Benefits of Smart Appliances

Smart appliances provide consumers with benefits such as: 

  • Convenience and ease of use, making home life easier and more comfortable through the automation of everyday tasks.
  • Energy efficiency by monitoring and adjusting their own energy levels, based on actual usage and through coordination with other sensor-based devices in the home, such as thermostats or motion detectors. 
  • Security for people’s homes and families with connected security systems that alert to problems, even if residents are out of town.

Why Manufacturers Are Creating Smart Appliances

Manufacturers have the most to gain from smart appliances— tapping into the data they generate to save maintenance costs, iterate and improve their products, provide customers with better service, and create new revenue streams through add-on features and value-added services. 

Using smart device-generated data, appliance manufacturers can automatically: 

  • Track their products through the entire sales, distribution, and installation cycle 
  • Do preventive maintenance and remote diagnostics to reduce the number of service calls and avoid appliance failures 
  • See how, when, and how frequently consumers use the product, including which features they engage with—to add capabilities or deliver value-added products or services that they know consumers want 
  • Upgrade firmware using over-the-air (OTA) updates, to fix bugs or to deliver additional value-added services or functionality

Turning Appliances into Smart Appliances

Manufacturers have two choices when it comes to creating smart connected versions of their appliances: Building the expertise in-house or purchase the expertise. Creating a smart appliance requires technical know-how in networking, embedded devices, software application development, and other domains, as well as in all the standards, protocols, and interconnections of these various technology areas. 

The vast majority of appliance makers are not experts in the kinds of engineering and technology required to make a top-notch smart home product. For these manufacturers, using a ready-made smart home platform can help them get to market faster and less expensively, with a better-connected product.

Taking the Smart Approach to Smart Appliance Manufacturing

Ayla Networks is a leading provider of the kind of Internet of Things (IoT) technology platform that manufacturers can use as the basis of their smart appliance products. Ayla Networks has worked with a number of manufacturers, including brands that are household names, to turn their traditional products into smart appliances. Here are some recent examples: 

  • One leading residential water softener manufacturer has gained valuable insight into the dealers and retailers carrying its products, identifying where to devote more sales or support resources. By choosing an IoT platform that works across numerous product lines selling through multiple channels, the manufacturer was essentially able to “do” connectivity once across its entire enterprise. 
  • Although tankless appliances have fewer energy efficiency challenges than traditional appliances, manufacturers of smart tankless appliances can use the data their products generate to improve future versions of their products, tune their warranty and service offerings, and establish closer ties with their customers.
  • Commercial boilers produce hot water as well as steam that heats the interior of a building, creating more parameters to manage than a traditional residential appliance. Commercial boiler manufacturers, therefore, benefit greatly by being able to better control, improve, and pull data from connected IoT versions. 

Are you a manufacturer of traditional appliances interested in getting into the smart appliances market? Or do you already manufacture smart appliances, but you’re not sure if you’re taking full advantages of all the new capabilities of connectivity—or if your in-house teams could gain from working with dedicated IoT technology experts? 

Contact Ayla Networks to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about designing smart appliances and other smart home products using Ayla Network’s IoT platform services.