This post first appeared on Forbes.com
For a couple of decades I’ve been hearing about the smart home and connected appliances. And while connected appliances are still very much in their infancy, they are starting to emerge. And, the proliferation of home Wi-Fi means that it’s now easy to wirelessly connect them to the home router and to control them from a Wi-Fi equipped smartphone, tablet or computer. It’s even now possible for appliances to communicate with each other, though it’s a bit hard to imagine what your refrigerator might have to say to your clothes dryer.
At a press event in Belek, Turkey, organized by IFA – the German company that also hosts the giant IFA consumer technology trade show in Berlin each September — B/S/H (Bosch Siemens Hausgerate) announced that it is working on a smartphone app to control appliances.
Home Connect, which is expected to be available late this year for iOS and next year for Android, will control appliances not only from Bosch and Siemens but other brands as well, according to the Home Connect project manager, Claudia Häpp.
The ability to control devices from a wide variety of companies is the key to this app being accepted among consumers, said Häpp. “Even though we would like everyone to only buy our appliances, the reality is that about 90% of households own different brands of appliances,” she said. “People want a free choice of different brands. But they want one simple app to control everything.” She added that 66% of consumers want to control all their appliances with a single app, based on BSH research.
Listen to Larry’s 1-minute CBS News Tech Talk segment with Claudia Happ
The app will connect to appliances through the home Wi-Fi network. No other controllers are required as long as both the mobile device and appliances are connected to the same network. If the user is away from home, the app can communicate to the appliance through the Internet. Häpp said the the company is taking security “very seriously.” She said that B/S/H has contracted with professional hackers to challenge them to break into their systems. So far so good, she said. But, she added, “of course it always has to be updated because security is a topic of the moment.”
Häpp said the BSH is creating a separate company to market the app and that she has contacted several of their competitors to assure that the app will be able to communicate with their products. So far, she said, there is no accepted communication standard for remote control of appliances but she envisions such standards evolving over the next couple of years.
Häpp, an engineer, did her Ph.D work on connected appliances.