Creating the “Smart” Consumer

Mon, 08/09/2010 - 7:23am
Lauren DeStefano, Assistant Editor
Lauren DeStefano Washing laundry uses a lot of energy and water. With every load, an average automatic washer uses about 40-80 gallons of water. Indesit and Freescale Semiconductor created a way to conserve water and energy.

Recently showcased at Freescale’s Technology Forum in Orlando, Indesit’s Smart Washer uses Freescale’s ZigBee node to reduce energy by considering green power availability and energy cost in its operation.

Consumers probably suspect a catch. Sure, an appliance that can save energy and help the environment sounds like a fantastic idea, but how much more are these Smart Washers going to cost? What makes this washer any better than an old fashioned washing machine? What are the advantages to the user? These are probably some key questions that consumers are asking themselves.

ZigBee LogoStefano Frattesi, Innovation for Design Manager at Indesit, explains more about the product. When asked what some of the competing technologies that are faced with the smart washer, Frattesi responds; “The appliance has to be endowed with an additional intelligence and the actual microprocessors we are using are perfectly capable to handle this overhead. But the communication capabilities in the Home Area Network are also important, and this is where Freescale is helping us with their ZigBee chipset.”

Creating the Smart Washer, there are many technologies being used. Information technologies, wireless communications and Human Machine Interaction are a few interdisciplinary competences that Indesit and Freescale are trying to introduce within their new “Smart” product.

Another concern that a consumer may have is whether or not it is actually beneficial to them. Frattesi explains that an advantage to the consumer is energy and cost awareness.

“We want to make our customers aware of the energy they will use on the cycle and temperature selection phase even before starting our household appliances,” said Frattesi.

Also, while contemplating whether you would want the Smart Washer compared to the everyday washer, price is usually a major concern. When asked what the added cost for the finished product would be, Frattesi says that the cost would be a few more Euros for the appliance, but price of the ZigBee chipset will lower once it becomes more popular and widespread.

With environmental issues and price being two major concerns in today’s society, the Smart Washer seems like a pretty smart investment for our future. For people who are environmentally cautious and want to conserve energy, this product could be of great interest to them.

“Smart appliances will help the consumer choose the best time of the day when the electricity will be cheaper or the energy supply will be greener, thus saving energy cost in the household and also contributing beneficially to the environment,” Stefano Frattesi, Innovation for Design Manager at Indesit.

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