Smarter home appliances from IBM and TI

By Martin Kienzle, Ph.D., IBM and Eran Sandhaus, TI

The Internet of Things (IoT) is arriving in households - connecting different systems and devices to each other and the Internet - delivering information that has never been accessible before.

For manufacturers, Internet access opens up new opportunities to increase return on investment and understand how appliances are being used by consumers. By leveraging cloud technology and Big Data techniques, companies are able to analyze a wealth of data. This data offers manufacturers the ability to perform predictive maintenance, optimize supply chain and service delivery as well as get insights into how, when and where devices are being operated. Ultimately this will drive cost savings and spur product innovation based on the direct relationship with consumers through apps and other interfaces. And finally, by understanding how appliances are used, manufacturers can improve the design of the next generation product offering.

For consumers, Internet-connected appliances add simplicity, reliability and efficiency to every day living. For example, consumers can prolong usage by receiving an alert when a refrigerator filter needs to be cleaned or changed.  By understanding the use patterns, it now becomes possible to create an automated delivery service of consumables such as detergent. And if the appliance stops working correctly, this Internet connectivity can help service professionals diagnose the problem before they leave the shop. This ensures manufacturers have the right part, or better yet, update the software or firmware remotely over the air, which may solve problems without a service call.

At the IFA Conference in Germany, IBM and TI will demonstrate an end-to-end solution from machine to cloud based on the latest connectivity, microcontroller (MCU) and power management technologies. To showcase the capabilities, a washing machine will be fitted with TI’s turnkey reference design containing a real-time C2000™ Piccolo™ microcontroller (MCU) with InstaSPIN™ motor control technology, ultra-low power MSP430 MCU for the control panel, a SimpleLink™ CC3000 embedded Wi-Fi module as well as SIMPLE SWITCHER®  power management integrated circuits.