What’s the next big thing in the Internet of Things (IoT)? Connected appliances—think washing machines, refrigerators, and even outdoor grills.
The Silicon Valley Business Journal predicts that the IoT market, which could reach $290 billion by 2017, will start in your own home. Imagine the possibilities! Your alarm clock picks up a traffic alert and tells your connected coffee maker to start brewing 10 minutes early, while your clothes dryer gives today’s outfit one last tumble.
But when your appliances go on auto-pilot, how do you know they’re working safely? After all, you don’t want your oven to kick into dinner mode while you’re still at the office.
That’s a major concern for the people working behind the scenes to bring smart appliances to the market. Today, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) already have to meet a set of hardware and software safety standards for household appliances. Next-generation functionality brings extra considerations. But smart connections could also give us products that are safer than ever.
The hazards of living
Ever since technology brought ovens, toasters, irons, and other electronics into our homes, we’ve suffered hazards. Cooking causes nearly half of all fires in homes, while appliances alone cause about 1,075 injuries each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
These fires are typically caused by product or material misuse. In other words, it’s often user error at fault. Even the best of us forget to unplug our curling irons before leaving the house. Luckily, OEMs are doing their best to respond.
Can smart appliances improve safety?
Connected appliances need to go above and beyond the standards for traditional products—especially since consumers are already nervous about appliances that work remotely. Of the top safety concerns people have about smart appliances, 42% were worried products might malfunction while they’re away or sleeping, and 18% were concerned about interference from other smart appliances.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is already working with OEMs to identify safe designs especially for smart appliances. The group recommends restricting the remote activation of certain features that could be hazardous. For example, an oven shouldn’t be able to start a self-cleaning function without first requiring the user to physically lock the oven door. UL also says communication circuits must be designed to work with onboard electronics to protect the user from electric shock.
OEMs need a safe IoT platform
For OEMs, turning a traditional appliance into a connected one could translate into big business benefits. But first, they’ll need to make sure those new smart features don’t conflict with the overall safety of the product.
The DADO Platform was designed with user safety in mind. DADO’s entanglement program measures a user’s proximity and activity when a product is in use. Alerts are sent to users if they leave the safety zone or if their mobile is static for a certain amount of time. This way, simply leaving a mobile device nearby isn’t enough to let the product run unsupervised. There’s also a failsafe function that disables the machine, even if the user is entangled, if a product malfunction occurs.
Want to learn more about how DADO is helping OEMs safely step into the next generation of home appliances? Check out DADO Labs for the latest news.