By 2023, the average UK home is expected to contain 50 connected devices, with the market for smart home appliances expected to surge by 49.4% over the next five years.
One area that has seen growth is smart laundry, with WiFi-enabled smart washing machines and driers controlled through apps an increasingly common feature of some homes, removing the need to manually change settings on a washing machine or wait until it has finished.
Smart washing machines and the rise of the internet of clothing
A glimpse of what that might look like and how it could help streamline the chore of washing, drying and even folding clothes was seen at the Haier 2019 Washing and Fabric Caring Industry Strategy Launch Event, held in Wuhan China.
Chinese consumer electronics and home appliances company Haier, debuted its “Qianhe” washing machine, an “ultra-sonic air-washing machine” that negates the need for ironing by converting water into micron particles that can infuse through fabrics to smooth out creases.
This technology is part of the company’s “internet of clothing”, a networked laundry solution that goes beyond smart washing machines to include the whole laundry process. The goal is to connect the appliances involved in doing laundry, the smart washing machine, laundry rack and folding machine.
First, the washing machine completes a wash cycle. Then the smart folding machine, installed on the smart laundry rack, detects if the clothes are thoroughly dried. The appliance then analyses the type of the clothes and fold them.
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Haier, the world’s largest home appliances manufacturer, also showcased how artificial intelligence can make doing laundry easier with the Leader 2 washing machine.The machine comes with an AI-backed virtual laundry assistant that can make recommendations on fabric care and laundry settings.
The company has also developed the U+ App, a mobile app through which users can get access to the information on water quality and water temperature in their region. The material and brand of the clothes can then be recognized by the washing machines, customising how they are washed based on this and also on the density and brand of the washing liquid.
Smart appliances in the homes of the future
During the event, Haier also offered an insight into how smart appliances might be integrated into the homes of the future. Demonstrating its “Smart Balcony” concept, Haier demonstrated how devices such as washing machines and drying racks might communicate to complete washing and drying cycles.
However, this goes beyond clothes. Haier also presented its “Smart Entryway” solutions with a machine that matches washing and caring procedure to the shoes of different type and style.
“We have expanded the focus of Haier washing machine from its functionality to a management platform that oversees the entire life-cycle of clothes,” a Haier spokesperson said.
“By compiling multifaceted resources about clothing brand and washing products, our products can provide users with all-around solutions for washing, protection, storage, clothes pairing, and purchase.”