Appliances with fancy touch screens and shiny finish might look nice, but they are good for another reason. According to a study by the U.S. Energy Administration, your home appliances account for about two thirds of your energy consumption. What if there was a way to reduce that to half or even less? Well, there is and you can control it right from your couch.
Since the iPhone came on to the scene in 2007, consumers crave the familiar appearance, sleek lines and high-end appearance of touch controls. Appliance manufacturers are not blind to this trend, as they have begun incorporating these designs into new product designs with increasing speed.
But, as consumers purchase and install these new technologically advanced “suites” (an entire collection of matching appliances), an additional benefit must not be overlooked: increased energy savings.
With the advances in Human-Machine Interface or HMI, appliance manufacturers have seen an opportunity to create additional value for consumers by creating apps to help manage appliances and their energy consumption. Some manufactures have even gone so far as to partner with local energy companies to collect utility on and off peak rates so customers can compare each appliance’s power use and manage their energy spend via a Wi-Fi connection.
The newest kid on the block in the home automation and white goods space is the learning thermostat, Nest. Touted as the thermostat that can reduce your heating and cooling bills by up to 20 percent, the Nest learns your schedule through imputing information in the HMI or via an app. Nest is just one example of our devices getting smarter and learning our habits. Tony Fadell, an advisor to Steve Jobs who left Apple in 2008 to form the start-up, designed the programmable thermostat. Like the iPhone did with the smartphone market, the Nest has transformed the way we think about thermostat HMI design.
Merging the sleek design and simple interface of an HMI, like the Nest, with the functionality and accessibility of an App is the new movement in home appliances and home automation solutions. Additionally, the reliability and ease-of-use for touch controls increases adoption of touch controls and HMI’s in appliances and home automation solutions. For products that have a 10-15 year lifecycle, these are important features.
Today’s kitchen appliances and home automation solutions are smarter, faster and more efficient than ever before. And they have to function that way in order to keep up with consumers’ ever changing and increasing demands. The use of touch controls via HMI in appliances has moved beyond the niche high-end market to a wide range of applications to help consumers interact with their appliances in fresh and innovative ways.