We’re living in a connected world where technology is evolving at an incredible pace and smart home devices are becoming more and more mainstream, seamlessly integrating into all areas of our lives.
From using a phone to control the heating or asking Google or Alexa to dim the lights, consumers are increasingly adapting and adopting smart technology throughout their homes, and the kitchen is now no exception. “Appliances are very much part of the connected home now,” says Keval Shah, Beko’s head of marketing.
Neff’s 90cm induction cooktop (N90 T59TS5RN0 ) features its FlexZone, which lets consumers place pots and pans anywhere on the hob and heats the contents where they are placed. It is split into three heating zones with boiling at the front, simmering in the middle and warming at the back. Using WiFi, it can connect to one of the company’s compatible hoods to control its extraction rate. The hob also has a removable, magnetic illuminated Twistpad Fire control knob that provides precise control over all five cooking zones
This hasn’t always been the case acknowledges Steve Macdonald, business director, freestanding division at Hoover Candy UK, who notes that connected appliances have “had a slow start”. However, he says, this is changing as a result of the “mass-market adoption of Alexa devices”.
Stoves’ 90cm built-in multifunction+ double oven (ST BI902MFCT) features the company’s Zeus Bluetooth technology, which allows users to set and adjust cooking duration and end time, save favourites and automatically update the clock remotely. It has a 72-litre main and 38-litre top oven, telescopic shelves and easy-clean catalytic liners. A- rated for energy efficiency, its functions include Equiflow fan, pizza, defrost, intensive bake, slow cook and bread proving
How retailers can tap into the smart sector
» According to Peter Wadsworth, BSH Home Appliances’ innovations manager, retailers must act now if they want to capitalise on sales of connected appliances. “Crucially, the window of opportunity for retailers to get a head start on their competitors is closing. In two years, anyone who hasn’t fully embraced the technology in their showrooms will already have been left far behind”
» Whirlpool’s brand manager Charmaine Warner believes independent kitchen specialists have an advantage over online retailers when it comes to smart appliances. “Smart appliances cannot be effectively demonstrated on the internet, making for an even greater opportunity for the retailer,” she says. “By taking ownership of the technology, opening up the showroom to become an experience store and an engaging centre, inviting customers to touch and see the appliances in action, the entrepreneurial retailer can really take advantage of extending business in this market”
» Neil Pooley, Miele’s category manager for kitchens, also stresses the importance of having working models on display. “It’s important to simplify the smart home – demystify the confusion around the complicated set-ups and show the real benefits. It also helps to have a live demonstration to showcase the latest trends if possible”
Stuart Mayo, head of marketing strategy, connected living (AI &IoT) at Samsung Electronics, agrees. “As consumers are now more tech-savvy than ever, they are learning to embrace a connected lifestyle, which is resulting in connected appliances becoming increasingly normalised,” he says. “We see about a quarter of UK households now having connected devices and that number is increasing all the time.”
Featuring a WiFi-enabled 21.5 inch touchscreen, Samsung’s Family Hub multi-door fridge freezer has three built-in cameras enabling users to see what’s inside remotely when using the company’s SmartThings app. The app tracks expiry dates on food and can provide reminders and meal plans on the fridge’s screen or a mobile device. The touchscreen can also mirror a smart TV so consumers can watch shows in the kitchen and stream music through its 5W speakers
Another manufacturer that is experiencing growing demand for smart appliances is BSH. “Our connected appliances have been on the market for three years and momentum is continuing to build,” says Peter Wadsworth, innovations manager at BSH Home Appliances.
BSH’s Home Connect app lets consumers start Bosch’s WAYH8790GB washing machine remotely and will send a reminder when the cycle has finished and it is time to remove the laundry. Its AutoStain setting is designed to detect and remove 16 stubborn stains including chocolate, grass and red wine, automatically adjusting the temperature, drum movement and soak time. Its Reload function allows users to add or remove items after the wash has started and the DrumClean reminder will alert consumers to run the DrumClean programme after 20 cycles operating under 40°C
Connectivity is making its mark across all appliance categories, from laundry and dishwashers to cooking and cooling, but what is the most popular? For Beko, it is washing machines and dishwashers.
Billed as a world first for pyrolytic ovens, Miele’s FoodView function on its Generation 7000 Vitroline H7860BP oven sees a HD camera within the oven allowing users to view its contents from a smart device using the Miele@Mobile app, which can also control the oven. Designed to help prevent overcooking, TasteControl will ensure the door automatically opens slightly once cooking is complete while MotionReact automatically activates the appliance’s light and display as the user approaches and switches any timers off. It can also be operated using Alexa-enabled devices
“These are the appliances that offer the best-connected functionality at the moment,” says Keval Shah. Connected dishwashers are also doing well for BSH, but it is ovens that are its top sellers according to Wadsworth. “Ovens are doing particularly well thanks to our Home Connect app, which provides a great recipe feature, full remote control, useful notifications and partner integrations.”
Beko’s AutoDose Connected dishwasher stores up to a month’s worth of detergent and rinse aid, dispensing the right amount for each cycle after detecting the dirtiness of dishes. The appliance can be operated remotely from a smart phone, tablet or any Alexa-enabled device using Beko’s HomeWhiz app, which allows consumers to download new programmes, automatically orders detergent when it is running low and provides notifications when salt needs replacing or the filter needs cleaning
Miele, meanwhile, says it is its smart cooker hoods that are most in demand. “Some of our most popular connected/voice-controlled appliances are our cooker hoods, which can be connected to Amazon’s Alexa system, allowing customers to change the power and lighting levels with ease while cooking,” says Neil Pooley, category manager for kitchens.
With a silver glass finish, Italian brand Smeg’s 45cm Linea compact WiFi wine cooler (CVI118RWS2) houses up to 18 wine bottles and can be controlled via the company’s SmegConnect app. This allows users to manage and control the storage and serving temperatures of wine, rate and keep a record of their favourite tipples and view which wines and how many bottles are in the cooler. It can also suggest wine for recipes and consumers are able to place orders with Italian wine shop Tannico
Regardless of what connected appliance consumers are looking to buy, the technology must be accessible and offer the consumer genuine benefits, from time to energy savings. “Most looking to invest in a smart appliance will be looking for something that makes their lives easier and is simple to operate,” stresses Laura Jones, product manager at Smeg UK.
Packed with technology to keep food fresher for longer, LG’s GMX844MCKV French door fridge freezer’s temperature settings can be adjusted remotely using the company’s SmartThinQ app. The InstaView Door-in-Door features a mirrored glass panel that illuminates following two knocks to reveal the inside, reducing cold air loss. Other smart features include the Auto Open Door sensor detector, which opens the door and pulls out the freezer drawers automatically, and Smart Diagnosis, which enables the appliance to communicate with a computer using NFC technology to diagnose problems
Sales may be on the up but it seems homeowners are still somewhat wary when it comes to going the whole hog and completely kitting out their kitchens with smart appliances. “Consumers have been hesitant to commit to a fully integrated connected household in one purchase. Instead, they are now choosing to build their home over time by investing in one connected device at a time as they come to replace their appliances,” explains Samsung’s Stuart Mayo. “Once consumers have one smart appliance in their home, they are much more likely to make their next appliance a connected one.”
With a 10kg capacity, Whirlpool’s Supreme Care condenser dryer (HSCX 10441) features the same intuitive controls as the FSCR12441 washing machine, which it can communicate with via the Whirlpool 6th Sense Live app. The app tells the dryer the washing machine’s current programme so it can automatically set the best drying cycle to optimise garment care and users can control the appliances remotely on a smart device. It also features SoftMove technology, which customises the dryer’s drum movement and temperature to suit the fabrics in the machine
Historically the premium price tag that comes with connected appliances has prevented them being more widely embraced. However, products are now becoming available across a variety of price points. “Connected technology is no longer just for the elite and that’s reflected by the range of brands embracing the technology,” says Beko’s Keval Shah.
Spanish brand Pando’s AirLink technology connects its PI 3500 induction hob to one of its compatible hoods so that the extractor switches on and increases and decreases speed depending on the level of heat being used on the hob. With 14 power settings, the six-zone induction hob has three bridge Flexizones to provide larger cooking areas and features automatic bridge function detection and three automatic cooking programmes – 42°C, 72°C and 94°C
BSH’s Peter Wadsworth agrees: “Models will be available at more price points, more partners and services will be available and our offering will get better all the time.” Hoover Candy claims it is leading the charge in making smart appliances available to more consumers. “Hoover is committed to bringing this technology through at mass market price points, giving the brand an edge over competitors,” says Steve Macdonald.
H-KEEPHEAT, a recently launched, 75L, built-in WiFi oven from Hoover, can be split into two cavities. In what the company describes as a world first in home cooking, the appliance uses Exever technology to cook and preserve food. Once cooked, individual portions can be vacuum-packed and stored in the oven at specific temperatures for up to seven days and reheated in the oven when required. The pyrolytic oven is controllable via the Hoover Wizard app, which also allows consumers to access and follow recipes
Samsung Electronics’ Stuart Mayo says: “Sales of our connected appliances are forecasted to grow significantly in 2020 as consumers’ understanding deepens around technology innovations for the home, specifically how smart appliances can help bring them more control over their home, while increasing safety and accessibility.”
BSH’s Peter Wadsworth also believes connected appliances offer great benefits in terms of accessibility. “Whether it’s voice control for the visually impaired or visual cues for the hearing impaired – like flashing connected lights when the dinner is ready – these technologies can actually be life-changing for some customers.”