The mechatronics applied to the world of state-of-the-art household appliances is revolutionizing our interaction modalities with our domestic devices. For increasingly advanced and smart finished products.
Today thinking of household appliances as simple devices is no longer sufficient, it is indispensable to see them as advanced systems, fruit of Industry 4.0, and characterized by the integration of several innovative technologies that improve performances, energy efficiency and safety, with users’ higher control.
In particular, precisely mechatronics, an advanced technology that matches mechanics, electronics and IT, allows creating systems and components that can improve people’s life quality, also contributing in the environmental sustainability. With the use, for instance, of electronic sensors, actuators and controls that make household appliances more efficient from the energy point of view and more user-friendly for users.
Moreover, the adoption of forefront mechatronic technologies can also improve appliances’ safety, reducing the risks of failures or of dangerous malfunctions, also granting always optimal performances along the whole product life.
Concept of smart household appliance
It is not correct to define a household appliance “intelligent” just because provided with an integrated mechatronic system. The term refers to a product able to communicate with other devices and to learn from experience to improve constantly its performances and to suit users’ requirements every time.
Therefore, the so-called smart household appliances use mechatronics but also other technologies such as the artificial intelligence, the automatic learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) to offer advanced functions like the remote control, the automation of daily activities and the interaction with several home connected devices.
Mechatronics is applied to state-of-the-art household appliances but there are some in which the use of this technology is particularly significant and allows the product to achieve great benefits.
Different products, different benefits
In the case of washing machines, the mechatronics application allows adjusting precisely the motor speed and the drum motion, decreasing the wear of parts and assuring a more efficacious cleaning of fabrics. Furthermore, integrated sensors can monitor the quantity of water and of detergent used, optimizing the consumption of energy and resources. They often use the artificial intelligence to analyse the fabric and to suggest the ideal washing modality.
The rental option is a further plus proposed by Haier with WashPass, a hyper-technological connected washing machine, with Inverter BPM motor (A-Energy Efficiency Class) that represents a new professional washing experience that is accessible to all, and allows taking care of clothes without worrying about anything.
It is the first washing eco-system in monthly subscription, born from the collaboration between Haier and Nuncas detergent brand, which integrates technologies such as Disaggregated Chemistry, IoT and Artificial Intelligence, and allows reaching at home up to 70% better performances versus a treatment of common stains in a conventional ECO 20° cycle, with multiuse liquid detergent, minimizing consumptions, wastes and consumers’ commitment.
The porthole is designed to contain 4 detergents with active ingredients purposely studied that, dispensed in suitable quantities according to the washing and thanks to the Artificial Intelligence, enable professional-level performance and results in garment care.
They are mixed and dosed by the selected programme according to the laundry quantity, the fabric typology and the filth level, maximizing the power of each ingredient and the overall washing efficacy.
The WashPass management is enabled by the hOn app that allows entering the washing machine also from remote, receiving notifications in real time and benefitting from a higher number of programmes in comparison with a standard washing machine.
Compatible with the smart speakers Alexa and Google Home, the app sends suggestions for the laundry and offers further functions like the Washing-Lens, which scans clothes’ labels by indicating the most suitable programme, and the Eco-Schedule to programme the start of the household appliance in the most convenient time slots.
In the ambit of dishwashers, mechatronic systems intervene to adjust the water flow and the pressure precisely, reducing the consumption of water and energy. Moreover, integrated sensors can monitor the dirtiness level of dishes, optimizing washing programmes and reducing energy and detergent wastes.
In terms of silence and saving of water and consumptions, the fully concealed 60cm Bosh dishwasher, Series 8 – SMV8ZCX02E (C-Energy Efficiency Class), is proposed as a complete solution that, through the numerous specific programmes and a brushless EcoSilence Drive motor, allows obtaining excellent results while ensuring a silent operation and an efficient use of water and energy.
In the drying phase, the PerfectDry system with Zeolite, a perennial mineral that absorbs humidity to turn it into heat, combines with the 3D airflow that can distribute heat inside the dishwasher uniformly, granting integral sustainable drying for all cutlery types.
The remote control through Home Connect system allows interacting with the smart dishwasher, making the dish washing user-friendly and efficient, also in consumptions. The new washing Assistant automatically proposes the most suitable programme according to the dish type, the filth quantity and degree.
Besides, carrying out the download from the Home Connect app, updates about the programmes’ state are sent and the user knows when it is necessary to execute the cleaning and maintenance programme, the topping up with salt and rinse aid, to achieve always the best performances.
At the same time, new functions are added like, for instance, the Intelligent Programme that allows adapting the washing and drying type according to the feedback provided at the end of the programme and giving more information about consumptions. The progress of washing types comes from the Programme Download, which allows integrating new options to the programmes contained on the control panel of the dishwasher and operating them simply according to one’s own requirements.
When ovens are at stake, mechatronics acts precisely in the regulation of temperature and airflow, granting uniform food cooking and decreasing energy wastes. Furthermore, the use of smart algorithms allows programming the oven for the cooking of specific foods, simplifying the use and improving results.
The plus of the artificial intelligence, finally, allows analysing food and suggesting the ideal cooking modality, according to the Intelligent Kitchen concept that Siemens attributes to its built-in iQ700 studioLine oven. It features advanced fully integrated technological functions that can grant an innovative user experience, with professional cooking results and a high flexibility level. The use of the Artificial Intelligence boosts and completes the present technologies.
Integrated into the black glass door, the touch control panel allows the all-round oven management, in clear and simple way. Some smart functions are studied for an optimal cooking experience of dishes. Like the roastingSensor Plus sensor that measures the meat temperature in three different points for the utmost cooking precision. In case of leavened products, instead, the bakingSensor Plus sensor permits to monitor in fully automatic manner the humidity level in the oven, granting cooking up to an experienced chef.
The advantage of preparing foods in healthier and more sustainable way, preserving ingredients’ colour and freshness, is offered by the fullSteam Plus function, which combines steam and heat to cook foods up to 120°C and even 20% faster compared to the fullSteam function set at 100°C.
Relevant component is the browning sensor guided by a camera with the support of the artificial intelligence, with allows selecting the browning level on a scale from one to five. Once reached the desired browning, the oven automatically switches off and sends a notification through the Home Connect app. The oven can so cook foods every time in the manner wished by each user.
Mechatronics allows adjusting precisely the inner temperature also in refrigerators, keeping foods fresh for a longer time and decreasing wastes. While integrated sensors, by monitoring the food quantity inside the refrigerator, also regulate it as needed, optimizing consumptions. Some models exploit the artificial intelligence to identify foods in the interior and to suggest recipes depending on available ingredients. In this case Samsung presents the smart interface, with touch display, of the 4-door Family Hub – 637L – RF65A977FB1 refrigerator (F-energy efficiency class), an integrated technological system, featuring high performances for the optimal food management and a user-friendly experience of numerous connected functions.
Fewer wastes and consumptions through the Digital Inverter compressor, which automatically adjusts its speed according to the real cooling requirement, fora higher energy efficiency, more durable performances and less noise in operation. Stop to the provisioning of bottles of water, at disposal fresh and filtered directly by the refrigerator’s Beverage Center. And always within the integrated jug’s reach, with Autofill function, and of glass’s reach, through the Water Dispenser.
The correct conservation of any food type is regulated by Cool Select+, an independent-control compartment equipped with 5 predefined modalities: Freezer, Soft Freezer, Meat/Fish, Fruits/Vegetables and Drinks. At the most suitable temperature for meat or fish there is the dedicated Flex Crisper drawer, while the Crisper+ compartment maintains the freshness of fruits and vegetables longer. Through the 3 inner cameras (View Inside function) the refrigerator’s content is visible always and everywhere to check what is inside and the eventual shopping to be done. With a simple touch on the display (Tap View) and browsing with fingers, it is possible to look (QuickView) beyond the door without opening it.
The 21.5” touch full HD display is a real digital interface that, through Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity and the artificial intelligence, is useful to manage system preferences; to programme the shopping (app Shopping List); to consult recipes (app Recipes) and to receive preparation suggestions according to the available tastes and ingredients (Meal Planner); to connect with other smart household appliances and devices (SmartThings); to enter web services by using the integrated internet browser; watching telephone and TV (SmartView); to share the agenda (app Calendar) photos, videos and messages with the family (Family Board, White Board, app Memo, To-do and Gallery).
These developments can significantly enrich the user experience and at the same time create new opportunities for sector companies that, innovating their products with the development of new technical solutions that can interact smartly with the environment and the user, remain constantly competitive on the market.