Internet-ready. App-enabled. “Smart”.
What do you think of when you read these terms? A brand new TV? A tablet?
A washing machine?
That’s right - in the age of emerging self-indulgent, internet-connected drivel, Whirlpool is leading the charge with their brand new “smart” washing machine and dryer set. Boasting a $1,700 price tag (EACH!), Whirlpool is banking on their (affluent) customer-base being caught in the everything-controlled-by-app fad that is sweeping the consumer electronics world.
So what can my $1700 washer do that my Goodwill-bought one can’t?
Well, not much, really. I can start a load (of clothes I’ve already put into the washer) from anywhere with an Internet connection. I’m alerted via an app when my load is done. And I can assign “laundry jobs” to members of my household.
But of course, as soon as my fancy washing machine is done, I’ll have to manually load the clothes into my fancy dryer. Then I’ll have to grab my phone, launch an app, and start the dryer.
Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t the Internet of Things supposed to add value to our lives?
I don’t mean to pick on Whirlpool. Appliances connected to the Internet are certainly not the worst use of their development time. Imagine a stovetop with a built-in, Internet-enabled display, filled with thousands of recipes at your disposal. This is the reality Whirlpool sees only a few years down the road. And I don’t think this is a terribly unpractical use of IoT in our homes.
In all fairness, Whirlpool doesn’t seem to know exactly where they fit right now either.
"We’re a little bit of a hammer looking for a nail right now," Chris Quatrochi, Whirlpool's global director of user experience and connectivity.
We’re on the forefront of a major technological movement. IoT is going to happen. And if done the right way, IoT will benefit all of mankind.
But until you can perfect a dryer that won’t steal my socks, Whirlpool, I’m not interested.