The connected fridge may be the much joked about symbol of the last internet of things hype cycle, but this time around, the connected washing machine seems to be willing to take that prize. In this concept video by cloud and design consultancy Berg, the washing machine gets a brain, and a design refresh to go along with it.
I believe that connectivity has to add a lot of additional value to entice consumers to plunk down their hard-earned cash, and this video subtly underscores the possibilities of the internet of things — that things won’t exist merely as smarter devices, but as part of an entire ecosystem. The challenge lies in turning that ecosystem into a reality.
Berg offers great tips for thinking about the value that connectivity can add to a device. My favorite is, “A connected device is software you can use because you are standing near it.”
In practice, this means you can use the connected washer via a on-machine display, not only via your smartphone. This is something that frustrates me about my lights and some of my other connected devices. The physical interface is binary and the application realm has hundreds or thousands of options. This is why I want a remote — to let me have two or three most-used settings in the physical realm.
But the biggest points of consumer excitement — he magic of the internet of things — lies in the buttons Berg imagines on the washer (you could touch to order new detergent or add it to your shopping list, for instance) and in the promise of getting a washer that deciphers the “baroque” symbols that tell us how to care for our clothes. This proposed service, and the promise of a washer that interacts with your clothing’s washing instructions, would require a significant number of businesses to get on board and adopt a few standards.
Setting up an automatic delivery from Amazon wouldn’t be tough, but figuring out how to get washing instructions from your garments to your washing machine without requiring tedious scanning or data entry by the consumer might take a while. But it could happen, and in the meantime I’m appreciative of having more physical buttons that link to the digital world. For more on Berg’s point of view, check out our interview with Berg CEO Matt Webb.