Developing the “smart ecosystems” of the future

The recent 2018 IFA Innovations Media Briefing, which featured high-level representatives from consumer and home electronics, related industries, and the world of media, took a close-up look at the theme “Smarter Ecosystems.”

At this year’s event, Hans-Joachim Kamp, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics, presented some fascinating insights from gfu’s 2018 market study, “Motives, Attitudes and Purchase Criteria: Consumer Trends in Consumer and Home Electronics.”

Using Germany as a test case, gfu focused on the number and range of electronic devices in households and the motivation for buying them. Is UHDTV a purchase criteria? How is the TV market changing and what do buyers think of networking and voice control? Which devices are currently on the shopping list and what is the budget?

The results highlighted the fact that consumer adaption to game- changing technology, while inevitable, still takes time. While 76% of German respondents to the study said they knew the term Smart TV (half of all households own one), only 26% of respondents know 5G, the new mobile standard, and a mere 16% were aware of the term the Internet of Things (IoT – Internet of Things).


Kamp noted that UHDTV sales are finding solid upward momentum, accounting for 20% of TV sales in 2018 — as opposed to 16% in 2017. Meanwhile, UHD is among the most important criteria when buying a TV, with 61% of Smart TV consumers saying that UHD technology had seriously influenced their buying decision.

One problem for the Smart TV market, however, is the fact that most people are streaming content on their smartphones (62% of respondents) or PCs (60%) and Tablets (46%), even if most of the streaming content is TV series (68% overall but 76% with 16-39 year-olds, with Amazon Prime and Netflix dominating).

While the Smart TV market is now forcing to compete with a whole suite of connected streaming devices, it will continue to have a central place in the smart city of the future.

Karel van de Horst, Digital Officer Europe, BSH Home Appliances GmbH, and Paulo Ferreira, Vice President Smart Vertical Solutions & Smart Cities, were on hand at the IMB to discuss the path from smart cities to smart kitchens. In less than 30 years, six billion people will live in cities — every 16 months a city crosses the 10 million population barrier and thus becomes a “mega city.” Bosch is therefore committed to creating smart solutions that will make these cities safe, comfortable, efficient, and ultimately enjoyable to live in.

BSH’s vision is to create an urban environment free from emissions, stress and accidents. Intelligent technologies are thus the key to sustainable urbanisation and BSH is thus expanding its Home Connect kitchen range to include over 20,000 devices. The steadily expanding device ecosystem is part of a wider push to ensure that a high “quality of life” drives the bold new innovations on show at IFA in 2018 and beyond.

In this way, the third presentation at the gfu Insights and Trends session explored how the dawning of “chatbots” will make the connected world even more seamless. Titled “Welcome to the Age of Entertainment: How Chatbots and Digital Assistants Transform Customer Communication,” Andreas Konrads, CTO of Silbury, a German tech company, showed how digital assistants are already laying the foundations for the “age of entertainment” — which he describes as a more natural form of human communication through which we express our needs and interests and connect in an emotional way.

That’s why digital assistants like Alexa, Siri or Cortana are moving into our lives.
Already today, they perform simple tasks, win customers and perform completely new services. And they learn fast.

The fourth Insights and Trends presentation was by Ralf Exler, Director of Innovation Management at Kathrein, a century old communications technology firm, who described the coming 5G networks that will make the connected world more possible. He described to the 300 journalists and industry leaders in attendance how these networks will offer “Massive Data, Massive Connectivity, NetVirtualisation and Convergence, Coverage Everywhere and Overall Security,” standards that are already having a major impact on communications networks.

All will be in place, he says, by 2025, a time of exciting and endless new possibilities for the consumer electronics and home appliance sector.

Photo: Hans-Joachim Kamp, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics


IFAINT18_PREV_p27-1Photo: Frank Jüttner, Managing Director of German sales subsidiary, Miel


Miele presented its new Dialog oven at the last IFA, but now a startup called MChef is working with the home appliance leaders to deliver top gastronomy to homes around the country.

The new partnership was announced by Frank Jüttner, Managing Director of Miele’s German sales subsidiary, at the IFA Innovation Media Briefing in Berlin.

The bold new collaboration allows Dialog oven owners to download the MChef app and order premium dishes or entire three-course menus to cook in only 20 minutes in their own kitchen. When they arrive on the customer’s doorstep, the ingredients are expertly arranged on porcelain plates and are ready to be cooked to perfection in a Dialog oven.

The correct oven programme settings are launched directly from the MChef app and average cooking time is 20 minutes. Now people can invite guests to dine as if in their favourite restaurant, all in the comfort of their own home. Orders received online by 12.30pm will be delivered the next day, 365 days a year.

The gourmet service, unique throughout the world, is due to start in September in north-west Germany and will be rolled out across the rest of the country from the beginning of next year, Jüttner announced.

A new flagship model from Miele’s range of countertop coffee machines, the CM 7750 CoffeeSelect will be launched at this year’s IFA. With an option to select from three different bean types at the touch of a button, a new stainless steel conical grinder quietly gets the job done without leaving any residue behind; it’s also the only countertop coffee machine which self-descales and automatically adjusts the height of the spout to the size of the cup.

Miele said it is also revolutionising laundry care with a “SingleWash” feature that addresses the dilemma of only needing to wash a few small items. “Even the smallest of loads right down to a single garment can now be washed economically, fast and hygienically,” Jüttner promised.

SingleWash gauges water and electricity consumption and even the cycle time to the precise needs of tiny loads. Just enough water enters the drum to saturate the textiles and the heating energy required is therefore relatively low. The result: 60% less energy and just half as much water is used.


IFAINT18_PREV_p28-1Photo: Harald Friedrich Managing Director, Bosch


As part of the BSH group, Bosch, as a hardware company, has evolved into the realm of connectivity.

“The Home Connect ecosystem is by no means exhausted with the current services,” emphasised Bosch Managing Director Harald Friedrich in Berlin. “On the contrary, the smart home is still at the beginning of its development.”

In 2018, Bosch will ship 500,000 connected devices according to Friederich, adding that by 2023 the company will sell 23 million connected products. This massive leap will be made possible by increasing collaboration with partner products such as Amazon Alexa that have become part of the Home Connect infrastructure.

Bosch’s networked Home Connect kitchen has now been completed across all product categories, with users able to check the status of their devices anytime, anywhere via smartphone or tablet — and using secure data exchange. Not only can the washing machine be started remotely, the Home Connect app also sends push messages to the user’s mobile phone on the program status.

“Consumers associate reliability and quality with the Bosch brand,” Friedrich told journalists at the IFA preview, adding that Bosch is the best-selling brand in Europe. The reason? By making “integration and individualisation priorities in the kitchen,” he added. “The key to this is simplicity, reduction to the essential and concentration on details.”

This strategy will be embodied at IFA 2018 when Bosch releases its series of new built-in appliances, the Accent line in carbon black. All device categories are included, including a new Sous Vide. Also at IFA, five more colours for Bosch refrigerators will be launched, meaning there’s a total of 24 colours to choose from.


IFAINT18_PREV_p29-1Photo: Olaf Nedorn, Head of Marketing and Communications, Siemens Home Appliances


Olaf Nedorn, Head of Marketing and Communications at Siemens Home Appliances, was on hand at the 2018 media briefing to unveil some 2018 IFA products that align with megatrends like connectivity and mobility. This includes the world premiere of the Studioline-branded Free Induction Plus cooktop under the slogans “flexibility without limits” and “the future moving in.” The theme this year is digital cooking and the device is typically controlled through the Siemens proprietary HomeConnect app.

“Connectivity is shaping the home appliance market as a megatrend: The number of large household appliances connected with household appliances rose by 81% last year,” said Nedorn. “The cooker hood technology CookConnect is only one of many examples: The extraction capacity is based on the settings of the cooker and on the air quality determined by the sensors.”

He added that the Siemens Induction Free Induction technology provides “fun with cooking” since pots and pans can be moved in and position across the stovetop. “56 micro-structures detect the size and position of the cookware,” Nedorn noted. “Six zones for different heat levels can be defined So the energy supply changes by simply pushing back and forth up to six pots.”


IFAINT18_PREV_p30-1Photo: Florian Lietzau Head of Marketing & PR, Gorenje



Florian Lietzau, Head of Marketing & PR at Gorenje, was at the IFA media briefing to explain the Slovenian household appliance company’s key mission at the 2018 show: “To reposition the Gorenje brand in the field of laundry care.”

To this end, Gorenje will be presenting new washing machine models branded under the WaveActive series. Not only does a new WaveActive drum promise gentle laundry care, it also has significantly improved driver ribs for better distribution of the laundry and better rinsing.

In addition, an IonTech ionizer removes 30% more stains at lower temperatures and with reduced limescale. It also helps smooth fibres and refresh laundry. A real steam generator also reduces wrinkles, odours and bacteria, while Doseaid recommends the right amount of detergent depending on the type of laundry. The WaveActive heat pump dryers also has a patented filter.

Gorenje is dedicated to developing solutions that have a lasting positive impact on users’ everyday lives, as well as the environment. All WaveActive generation washers and dryers will therefore meet the highest environment standards and boast extreme energy efficiency. The new WaveActive generation of washers and dryers will enter the market in 2018.


IFAINT18_PREV_p31Photo: Gerd Holl, Managing Director Germany & Austria, Sage Appliances


The espresso machine market has a new player in Europe, with Australian manufacturer Sage (a rebranded version of local Breville household apppliances) hitting the market with a bold new range of barista quality machines. Gerd Holl, Sage Appliances Managing Director Germany & Austria, was at the IFA media briefing to give some sage advice about an exciting new strategy to get traction in the crowded coffee appliance market.

“Sage has been developing and producing high quality small kitchen appliances for 85 years,” Holl said of a company that only set up Germany in October 2017. While Sage offers products for three categories: Food Prep, Cooking and Beverage & Toast, the home appliance newby is aggressively targetting the home barista market with a range of models including to topline Barista Express.

The new Bambino Plus with corresponding grinder (featuring LED display for perfect measuring of the necessary 20 grams of fresh ground espresso coffee) was the main focus of the IFA briefing, the compact espresso machine offering three seconds of heat-up time, plus three milk temperature levels and three different milk textures for perfect flat whites, lattes and cappuccinos.

A live demonstration pitted the Bambino against a full size commercial machine and the little guy punched way above its weight, producing an espresso the equal of the professional device. The Bambino Plus will be available from October.

IFAINT18_PREV_p32-1Photo: Astrid Duhamel, Head of Communication & Digital DACH, Group SEB



“The diversity of the brands is our recipe for success,” said Astrid Duhamel, Head of Communication & Digital DACH, Group SEB, at the IFA media briefing.

With well-established household appliance brands like Rowenta, Krups and Tefal part of the SEB Group stable, Duhamel said that “our goal is to simplify, beautify and make everyday life easier for consumers.”

SEB will unveil the new Krups “Evidance Plus” coffee machine with a metal brewing unit, XL OLED color display and three additional coffee variations at IFA 2018. Also new is Krups’ Cook4Me Connect for easy, fast, versatile meal preparation for the inexperienced home chef. The device can be personalized via an app that allows users to activate some 150 pre- installed step-by-step recipes via Bluetooth.

From Tefal comes Access Steam Care, a new steam iron with a vertical ironing aid for quickly removing creases that is pitched to consumers on the go. The compact steam brush heats up in 40 seconds and irons an outfit for the office or for a dinner date in in no time. With its extra-long three-metre cable, the portable steam brush eliminates the hassle of setting up a traditional ironing board and is available from September 2018.

Also hitting the stores during IFA is the Rowenta Silence Force 4A Multi-Cyclonic vacuum cleaner, which is billed at the “the most silent 4A+AAA performance vacuum cleaner ever.” The device is exceedingly quiet at 66 decibels but is also highly energy efficient, this promising ultimate cleaning results and A+ energy efficiency via the new EffiTech Motor system that promises greater dust pick-up and less energy use.

IFAINT18_PREV_p33-1Photo: Marlies Gebetsberger, Senior Director of Marketing, Philips Personal Health


Focusing its theme on healthy lifestyles at IFA 2018, Philips is promising to Make Life Better with a suite of cutting edge healthcare product that the company hopes to make available to three billion people by 2025, said Marlies Gebetsberger, Senior Director of Marketing for Philips Personal Health at the IMB press event.

Under the hashtag #makelifebetter, Gebetsberger presented this year’s products with “a clear focus on equipping people with smart solutions that promote a healthy lifestyle.” Central to a new suite of healthcare products was the Philips SmartSleep, with journalists given a “heads-on” demonstration of a connected headband that closely monitors sleep patterns and is proven to improve sleep quality, energy and reduce tiredness during the day. A complementary “Smart Sleep” product is the 5000 air cleaner that also promotes healthier sleep and prevents allergies.

Also spotlighted was the new Prestige 9000 series electric razor; the new Sonicare ProtectiveClean toothbrush; and the Philips 5000 coffee machine with LatteGo milk system.

“By 2025, we want to improve the lives of up to three billion people every year,” said Gebetsberger. “At Philips, we understand the area of holistic health for which we offer products”.