IFA 2015: disappointing in Home Automation

Bosch Active Oxygen

by Paul Roggema.

Bosch Active Oxygen
Bosch Active Oxygen

There were great hopes on IFA (Europe’s leading brown and white goods trade fair), edition 2015. Many expected the industry would come up with solutions based on the new, almost-ready home automation standard, SHIP (Smart Home Internet Protocol). A lot of work has been done in recent years in the EEBUS consortium and the first version of the universal command language is supposed to be ready. So on the first day, where Siemens/Bosch and Miele had their press conferences, observers were waiting for announcements of test projects where the new language, which allows for communication between all brands, would be implemented. But no. Siemens and Miele both stressed their connected appliances, Bosch even showed a refrigerator with a camera so you can check the content on your phone, but no SHIP projects. Miele was straightforward enough (as they always are) to tell us what’s wrong: “The EEBUS project originated in the energy companies, and there are not enough commands for successful use in the appliance sector”. So at least we know what the problem is.
As there is a EEBUS/SHIP theme event on Saturday Sep 5, there will be more details later this week. Siemens and Bosch both announced a new feature in washers: a freshening function using Active Oxygen, a label for ozon (O³, three oxygen atoms in stead of the usual two). Ozon will lose the third atom after generation, after 15 minutes or so. The loose third atom then has a disinfecting effect and can be used in a wash cycle. Siemens and Bosch use a vapor, as a separate cycle or additional to the normal cycles. Ozon has been around in washing for a while, and there will be more details later on.

Siemens_EQ9 BTC coffe machine
Siemens EQ9 BTC coffe machine

Siemens announced a new BTC coffee machine, the EQ9. It is a top model and has a new cleaning system for the milk cycle: using steam, the machine is cleaned after each use, a solution for an old problem. The milk container is attached into the system when in use (looks better) and there are more coffee and milk programs. And, also important, the display is much bigger and with nicer pictures of the coffee options, in color. There are also two bean reservoirs and two ceramic grinding units. Then there is a new refrigerator, 70 cm wide and 80 cm deep, unlike the standard 60 by 60. This offers 50% more space inside. It is no-frost for cooling and freezing, and because the condensor has forced air flow, there is no need for extra space on the back or on the side.
Bosch showed a refrigerator with two cameras. One in the door: when you open it at 45° it takes a picture of the content of the refrigerator. The other camera looks at the content of the door compartments, and both can be transferred to your phone. If you organize a bit (no problem for Germans) you can check your beer and yoghurt levels while shopping.

New Miele temperature sensor
New Miele temperature sensor

Meanwhile, Miele solved two important problems: automatic cooking and automatic descaling of your expensive BTC coffee maker. Until now, several attempts have been made to design an accurate temperature feedback on a hob. Spanish (now defunct) Fagor offered additional temperature meters for each pan, and Bosch and Siemens experimented with remote infra-red eyes. It never worked properly. Now Miele designed a new, two-phase infrared measuring system in the induction hob itself: before the actual cooking the properties of the cookware are measured. The relation to temperature and heating power is calculated. Then, three frying temperatures are preset: “low”, 160°; “normal”, 200° and “hot”, 220°. As these temperatures are kept constant, there is no danger of burning your food. You can also change the pre-set temperatures in 5° steps.
Automated descaling of coffee makers was known as the last serious problem to be solved. Descaling is always a problem, especially for premium consumers. They just don’t want to be bothered with this problem: setting the descaling program, changing the vinegar and water, too much fuzz. Miele now added a small container with apple cider vinegar. Miele promises that the process is fully automatic and the vinegar solution lasts for a full year of descaling. It takes place outside normal working hours, typically.
Other new features are more room to warm your cups, larger water containers, two temperatures for tea water and a function for a pot full of hot water.
In the next days other white goods makers will present themselves: especially Whirlpool. This is the first year that the mother company will have a press event, as in previous years only their Bauknecht brand was present. News is expected on the integration of Italy’s Indesit into the company. Both brands (Bauknecht and Indesit) share an exhibition hall.
Electrolux (of Sweden) always presents the German AEG brand prominently, and Philips will explain their new company structure, where small appliances will be part of the new Philips HealthTech.
And later this week the news from Samsung and LG will follow.