Smart products and appliances seemed to be everywhere at the IFA show in Berlin this past week. I was attending as a speaker for the IFA+ Summit conference portion of the show and it felt much different from previous years because connected products were a point of discussion in almost every booth. That’s saying a lot considering IFA is one of the world’s largest trade shows for consumer electronics and appliances.
In their show wrap-up, IFA reported more than 150 companies showcased the latest in smart home solutions. These included intelligent home automation products ranging from lighting to room temperature and heating solutions, to energy management and security systems, and, of course, smart robots from vacuum cleaners to lawnmowers.
Consumer brands understand the market is moving towards all products being connected and that they need to move forward with it. Even so, most brands were still only at the demo stage with their products at IFA. My guess is because they are still trying to figure out what the consumer really wants.
That was another big difference between this year’s IFA and previous shows: brands were all investing significantly in learning so they could move forward quickly with connected offerings that made sense. If one thing was clear to me, it was that the future of IoT products in the home is not just about connectivity anymore. Products had to be better and provide an improved user experience.
This was a big part of the IHS Technology panel discussion I was invited to join. It was entitled “Smart World: Home Appliances” and was moderated by Dinesh Kithany, Principal Analyst for Home Appliances at IHS. My colleagues from Electrolux, NXP, Pipesbox, and I discussed the importance of changing the commitment by brands to deliver a better consumer experience with their product – to deliver a service that actually improves the consumer’s life while providing a long-term commitment for peace of mind. It’s about automating the work in the home so that consumers have more time. We talked about how the goal should be to make the home a better and safer place to raise a family. And indeed, we also spoke of our belief that brand manufacturers who understood this could transform their businesses by opening new revenue sources while still having happier customers.