A coffee machine that knows how you like your cappuccino; a washing machine that communicates to the dryer the correct setting for the load it has done; a dishwasher that switches itself off when it detects a leak; a fridge that alerts you when the door is left open: It might sound like some kind of futuristic fantasy, but it’s not. It’s all available right here, right now.
Home appliances are not only improving the way they do the job they are designed to do, they are also becoming more ‘intelligent’ and intuitive every day. Pre-programmed modes allow us to adjust performance for virtually any eventuality, saving time and adding convenience. Built for the future, these appliances are far more efficient in terms of energy and water consumption and the built-in wireless connectivity promises a whole lot more exciting features will be added in the near future.
Let’s take a look around a hypothetical home, equipped with some of these smart appliances.
Before we start, note how cool it is indoors. The cost of air-conditioning needn’t be a concern when it is solar-powered. The Sun Source Home Energy System from Lennox, available through Polar Bear AC, uses a system of solar modules (panels that work semi independently of one another) which direct energy first and foremost to your solar-ready air-conditioning unit. Only when the air conditioner is not running is power directed to lighting and other appliances. Depending on the number of panels you have, this can cut air-conditioning costs by 50-90 percent.
Step into the kitchen and open up the double doors of the GE French Door Refrigerator and tiny LED lights illuminate every corner of the fridge. “It’s all light and no heat with LED lights,” explains David O’Driscoll, sales associate at Brand Source. “Traditional incandescent bulbs emit 80% heat and only 20% light. The motor has to work less to cool the fridge down with LED lights, so it’s more energy efficient.” Plus, it looks pretty sharp. But this is a fridge that is cool through and through: eight sensors measure and maintain a constant temperature throughout its 26-cubic foot capacity. Two crisper drawers and a deli drawer can be separately adjusted to keep moisture and temperature at optimum levels depending on whether you are storing salad, fish or dairy products. And when you fill up with your weekly shopping you can hit the turbo button to boost the chilling process and bring the temperature back down in little more than the blink of an eye.
Set a pan on the Thermador electric induction cooktop, add rice and water and set it to rice mode. Walk away and forget about it. The cooktop will bring itself up to the required heat, maintain a constant temperature while the rice cooks and switch itself to warming mode once it’s ready.
Say you want to reheat something but you don’t want it to boil over , says Cynthia Hew, owner of Bon Vivant, you can use the SensorDome function whereby a sensor in the cooktop monitors the temperature of the pot and keeps it at the required level.
Above the range is what appears to be a microwave, but is in fact a speed cooker, convection oven, warmer and sensor microwave, all in one. It’s the GE Advantium oven. This device can cook food eight times faster than conventional ovens, without sacrificing flavour or texture. Imagine–a roast chicken ready in 20 minutes. The microwave sensors read moisture levels in the food and power down automatically when they deem the food to be ready. “To all intents and purposes you have a second oven,” says David O’Driscoll–but at a fraction of the price of a conventional one.
When the cooking is done, open up your Miele Futura dishwasher and LED lights will light up the interior. There is no need to scrub pots and pans, rinse dishes and separate the crystal as the dishwashers have between 6 and 16 cycles to suit almost any need. It is even possible to set the lower tray on an intensive cycle while the upper tray stays on a gentle wash.
“Miele is a superior brand that places high importance on quality and innovation,” says Katherine Holmes, Assistant Sales Manager at AL Thompson. “But what really won me over is they place an even greater importance on the environment.” Miele is an industry leader in developing the most energy and water efficient appliances in the market and the latest generation is more environmentally sound than ever.
Select Miele appliances are RemoteVision™ enabled, which means their performance is monitored constantly and user faults or potential service problems are automatically, wirelessly communicated to the Miele service centre. Other manufacturers have developed their own versions of this self-diagnosing and reporting ability. This connectivity has untold implications for the future of appliances.
Technology never stands still however and what is cutting edge today will be common place next year. The future of appliances looks set to become increasingly integrated and automated. In a few years’ time you may be able to preheat the oven and run the bath as you drive home, while your fridge will detect that you are low on milk and add it to your shopping list. In less than ten years’ time, experts say, ovens will ask us how we like our steak done, to ensure they cook it to perfection.