The latest Mintel Report[i] on Washers and Dryers predicts that technologically savvy consumers are to expect much more from their domestic appliances in the not-too-distant future. But just how far can technology take us?
The future has always been difficult to predict. For example, 20 years ago, it was predicted that we would by now all be driving battery-operated cars...and perhaps even hovering ones! Although, some of our predictions now seem laughable, there are times that technological advances blind-side us all. For example, who would have predicted that the internet would have such a big impact on a daily lives?
It is clear that predictions can be difficult but we can certainly make an educated guess at what the future of appliances has in store. For example with the advancements in “water-less” washing, will the average washing machine in 2033 use nylon balls or take condensation from the air to wash our clothes? And if so, will washing machines look anything like they do now? Although this appliance has looked much the same since the late 60’s, it has also functioned in the same way over this period. Perhaps the future of washing machines could see a radical new look to these appliances.
Flexibility has always been a huge motivator for technological advances. For example, induction hobs can now be created with flexible large cooking surface that can heat a combination of pans of different shapes and sizes. But how far will these innovations go? Perhaps a washing machine and dishwasher in one, or a chopping board which transforms into a flexible hob area?
Whatever the future holds, I expect advanced functionality will continue to be a key driver of innovation. One significant next step which many are predicting , will have mass market appeal is the further development of appliances that can communicate with the internet and our mobile phones.
The Mintel report shows that 59 per cent of people would expect to pay more for a washing machine that communicates to their mobile phones. However, as the number of apps for home appliances grows, the report warns that manufacturers will need to create smart tech operating systems for their products that are also compatible with one another. The report warns: “An app that only works for certain devices, may fall at the first hurdle.”
Technology has already been developed which will allow appliances to diagnose their own faults and notify the manufacturer through a wifi connection. This will mean that the manufacturer will be able to call and notify the customer if something is wrong – before they have even noticed a problem! This is something that will no doubt be part of the offering for appliances of the future.
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