The connected kitchen is catching on: As appliances become smarter, more consumers are seeking smart white goods that make life easier. By 2025, it’s expected that 11.6 percent of U.S. households will have some form of smart appliance, ranging from dishwashers to refrigerators and everything in between. Retailers are rising to meet the demand both online and in-store.
Despite this groundswell, a study by CEDIA, BSH Home Appliances Corporation (a company of the Bosch Group), and CE Pro revealed that 38 percent of custom integrators have not completed a single project involving smart and connected appliances. While the majority of home technology pros want to integrate appliances into their product mix, learning to talk to consumers about how these products fit into the bigger “smart home” picture isn’t as simple as it might seem. A jumble of different options, inconsistent interoperability across devices, and varying control features can all make for a complicated conversation.
As more leading smart appliance brands like LG and Bosch enter the custom integration space, dealers and integrators must step into consumers’ shoes. They’ll need to take the time to understand what the customer is hoping to achieve with a smart appliance, other goals an appliance might impact, and which devices should be part of the same smart home network. With a complete picture, dealers and their integration partners can help their customers take full advantage of smart home appliance features and avoid a Tower of Babel in their networked device communications.
Understand the client’s existing set-up
The first step is to understand the client’s existing ecosystem and how new appliances can further enhance or complicate it. Smart devices connect more than just homes; they connect lifestyles and add simplicity to day-to-day tasks. In bringing smart appliances into the conversation, begin by investigating which technologies the client already has in place, which AI assistants they are already using, and what they hope to achieve with smart appliance technology. As with other smart home solutions, the interface and features of these appliances should be comfortable and consistent with the rest of the home.
If the homeowner is looking to add a smart appliance to a home without much tech beyond a voice assistant speaker, they might be open to a voice-activated fridge or washing machine that leverages the same cues and removes a lot of the intimidation out of taking on new technology. On the flip side, if a client has a fully integrated control system already in place, it’s important to offer the technology that will not only blend seamlessly into the ecosystem, but also enhance the convenience and function rather than detract from it.
The smart home is meant to make life easier, with each device easing the burden of everyday tasks. That said, smart appliances aren’t hitting their full potential if they can’t co-exist with the network that’s already in place. To ensure that clients are getting the most out of smart appliances, interoperability should be a consideration early in the process. If a customer needs a separate app to help manage the dryer, or if it’s not tied into the whole-home control system or voice assistant they’re using, chances are these new features won’t be very helpful to them. Really, whatever tasks the smart dryer is supposed to alleviate have just been replaced by the new task of having to download, learn, and manage a new software program.