Smart appliances & consumer priorities


The other day I ordered a new washing machine. Our old one had broken down, mid-wash, and the cost for the repair would have been out of proportion. So I quickly checked a few reviews and settled on a new one, ordered it online to be delivered a couple days later and was done with it.

Yesterday it occurred to me – 9th of April is Internet of Things (IoT) Day, you see – that it never even crossed my mind to check for a smart, connected washing machine.

The Internet of Things is on my mind every single day in work and peer discussions. I have a conference about it (ThingsCon)! And still, not a single thought about a connected washing machine.

Habit? Maybe. Was I in a hurry to replace the old machine? Certainly. But mainly I think it’s a matter of priorities, of actual problems to be solved. It’s just not currently important enough as an issue.

As the smart folks over at BERGCloud have demonstrated, a smart washing machine would be very useful and nice, if done right:


Cloudwash: the connected washing machine from BERG on Vimeo.


But this got me thinking about solutionism, and how many IoT products currently are solutions looking for a problem, diluting a field that’s hard to grasp for consumers to begin with.

Also, I started a quick search for current connected washing machines. Turns out quite a few brands do offer smart machines right now. But I dare you, right now, to try to figure out details for, say, a Miele smart machine. It’s impossible to navigate and figure out online what’s going on. After some embedded, hard to read, PDF-ish magazines with praising connectivity in general, I gave up. It almost seems like they aren’t even trying to communicate their offers in the field.

Add the relative longevity of household appliances and connectivity isn’t such an easy sell.

My laundry, for better or worse, will be washed without smartphone for a while to come.