The major theme to emerge at this year’s IFA tech show in Berlin (September 3-5) was the growth in connected domestic appliances and how that trend is set to continue.
The event went ahead this year in a hybrid format limiting physical visitor numbers and using online presentations and conferences to reach those who could not attend in person.
In all, IFA counted 6,100 attendees and 1,450 exhibitors from 30 countries, while more than 78,000 people following IFA 2020 online a couple of days before the show, leading to a total of 262,000 views.
In Haier’s press presentation at the show, European chief executive Yannick Fierling emphasised that the connected home and the Internet of Things were the way forward and that Haier had already invested €60 million (£55m) in smart-home tech in its home market of China, where it has tripled the number of connected appliance users.
Fierling said it was the company’s goal that all of its products should be connected by 2023 and as part of the drive toward that goal, Haier unveiled it hOn smart app, which will connect together all appliances from not only Haier, but also its Candy and Hoover brands.
Among products unveiled were the Nova single-button washing machine from Candy that uses smart tech to download program updates. Hoover showed its H-WASH 500 washer that scans clothes labels to determine the best wash cycle, while Haier itself revealed its new Series 4 cooking range that has artificial intelligence at its core. In-oven cameras can identify the food inside and adjust cooking parameters accordingly.
Fierling told attendees: “The strong link to technology, and the creation of ecosystems built from the Internet of Things are the two main assets we aim to for turning our vision of Smart Home and Smart Living into reality.”
At BSH’s presentation at IFA, Roland Hagenbucher, managing director of SEG Haugeräte, told delegates of “unprecedented challenges” during the coronavirus lockdown period, saying: “We have had to reinvent ourselves and during this process, two things have proven to be particularly important – support for managing everyday life through smart tech and connectivity and [producing appliances for] stylish kitchens and elegant homes. This has proven to be more important than ever.”
BSH explained how its SystemMaster architecture turns BSH brand appliances into digital services platforms. “Among other things,” said a BSH statement, “it helps BSH’s own customer service centre to diagnose and fix equipment faults via remote maintenance. In addition, self-learning algorithms allow the development of new services that are more accurately tailored to consumers’ needs. SystemMaster represents solutions with which BSH can continue its journey from a manufacturer of analogue home appliances to a sector leader for digital services and personalized kitchen experiences.”
Hagenbucher also referred to a survey they commissioned from the Zukunft Institut, which showed that: “Despite, or precisely because of corona, one third of city dwellers want to invest in their kitchen in the near future. And then, a number that brings me particular joy, 51% of respondents said that a high-quality kitchen offers them a better quality of life. Our innovations are aimed precisely at achieving this better quality of life through the use of smart functionality and aesthetics.”
Miele also unveiled smart technology to make consumers’ lives easier. In his presentation, Dr Axel Kniehl, executive director for marketing and sales, spoke of the Smart Food ID feature in its ovens, where a built-in camera can recognise the food inside and adjust cooking times and temperatures automatically. Miele also announced its WT1 washer-dryers, which are billed as “the most intelligent on the market”. Smart Browning on its ovens is also aimed at ensuring users can cook the perfect pizza. While on its hobs, CookAssist ensures food is never burnt while cooking. Older appliances can also download these new features. And central to all of that was the new Miele Smart Home app.
The new K7000 refrigeration range shown features Perfect Active Fresh technology that sprays food with a fine mist of water, as is done in many supermarkets. This, said Miele, helps to keep fruit and vegetables fresher for longer.