An overview of the evolution of the smart home appliances market in the past 20 years
Everyone’s looking for the missing AC remote control as summer makes it practically impossible to enjoy the nail-biting cricket contests. A few accomplices that are active participants of the event and are still immobile include the TV, popcorn, snacks, cold drinks, the couch, and a person sitting on it, busy with his/her smartphone.
Within moments, when all areas of the remote’s potential discoverability have been rummaged through – such as above and below the dining table (beds too), drawer of the cabinet, slab under the key hanger, and the cushion void between the couch – the comfortably-seated person points his/her infrared-enabled smartphone towards the AC and switches it on. It couldn’t be decided thereupon whether the following cheer was because of the now-working AC or the wicket that was taken precisely then, but technology surely works its wonders!
If we carefully look around us, we’ll be astonished to see how modern inventions have added to the ease and convenience in our daily lifestyles. The biggest yet most unrecognized harbinger of this change is something that we use on a day-to-day basis – electrical appliances.
So, let us find out how these “dark knights” have been changing the way we live:
Demand-driven evolution of electrical appliances
Electrical appliances are more or less like air within our lives – invisible, yet essential. It’s only when something, say our washing machine, starts malfunctioning that we realize how important it is to our daily existence. However, these appliances were never as functional as they are today. Multiple inventions – for instance, mixers and grinders, desert coolers, and vacuum cleaners – were simply ingenious, but with time, we experienced a need for more convenience. Let us take washing machines as an example. Earlier, the most sought-after washing machines were those that had two separate tubs – one for washing, rinsing, and soaking, and the other one for spinning to remove excess water from the clothes.
The appliance only needed us to manually transfer clothes from the washing tub to the spinning tub and our clothes were cleaned without any hard labour. As they became more popular, consumers felt the need for more convenience and this need gave a fillip to the more advanced single-tub, front-loading machines. The credit for this development goes to the need of more comfort by users.
Similarly, mixers and grinders, though time-saving and essential, were unable to fulfil multiple users’ needs such as slicing, chopping, shredding, extracting juice, and so on. This added juicers and food processors to the assortment. Desert coolers worked merely as a fan (something that they had originally replaced) during the rainy season and hence had to be substituted with ACs. This is how our electrical appliances have constantly been evolving over the due course of time, while simultaneously adding to our comfort. But as we are traversing into a new age of fast-paced technological innovations, our electrical appliances are gradually becoming smarter and have added more functionality to themselves.
The advent of ‘smart’ home appliances via a demand-driven vector
The proliferation of electronic gadgets and devices started globally with the beginning of the new millennium. Smartphones were the biggest harbinger of change and introduced highly functional mobile applications along with high-speed internet connectivity to a user, even if the user was on the move. This development paved the way for the IoT (Internet of Thing) technology, which would soon provide the groundwork to smart home appliances. But what is this IoT technology and what are these smart home appliances?
IoT technology involves feeding (or introducing) an IP address to an unconnected device (such as refrigerators, ACs, and so on) for internet connectivity. This facilitates communication between a network-connected object and other Internet-enabled devices and systems. With the driving vector in the broader consumer market being the demand for greater functionality, manufacturers started leveraging IoT technology for everyday home appliances.
Such devices can either be operated using smartphone applications or the internet, besides their usual control mechanism. A majority of these devices can also be controlled using virtual home assistants, which essentially are smart, conversational devices that have the ability to integrate themselves with smart appliances and local IoT networks. This enables a user to control these appliances by using simple voice commands. So, the next time you lose your AC remote, all you have to say is “Please turn on the AC and set it to 22 degrees.” Modern smart appliance innovations and robotics have also helped us in doing away with specialized functions such as home cleaning with robot-vacuum cleaners and floor mops. The time isn’t far when such futuristic offerings will be fulfilling all of our household functions.
Perhaps, that's the reason why the Smart Home Solutions market, as pointed out by Schneider Electric’s The Smart Phone Market in India, is growing with a CAGR of 30 percent and will more than double its current market size within a span of three years. The report also revealed that 78 percent of customers (with a budget of Rs 50 lakh or more) want to go for Smart Homes featuring an array of such solutions. So, it can be said that our society is becoming smarter in today’s age of digital transformation, but then, so are its electrical appliances, ultimately unleashing more time-efficiency and productivity.
Pulak Satish Kumar is the COO of Puresight Systems Pvt. Ltd.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)