Smart products are massively on the increase in our kitchens and utility rooms. In many cases, smart isn’t just about remote control of devices, but also about getting more out of a product, including more washing machine programmes and ovens that help you cook better.
To find out more about how Hoover, winner of our best washing award 2021 for its H-Wash 500, sees the future of smart, I spoke to Steve Macdonald, Business Director of Home Laundry.
Has Hoover seen a growing need for smart appliances, and is any of this driven by the pandemic?
Purchases of connected home products increased between March 2020 and March 2021 with a noticeable boost to products like smart washing machines following a previous year of stability in ownership.
Year-on-year the connected market continues to advance apace and, despite the ongoing pandemic, the last 12-months have been no different. In fact, since the COVID-19 outbreak, 60 per cent of consumers have increased usage of their appliances and, now, smart appliances are becoming the go-to choice in many households.
The most noteworthy developments have been further integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI), including voice-assisted models and app-controlled products, which is increasingly becoming the norm in the laundry sector.
With regards to products and trends, we have seen connected appliances really establish themselves in the laundry sector in recent years and predict the focus to move more towards built-in/cooking appliances in the year ahead as their benefits are more widely understood and appreciated.
Does Hoover see demand continuing into 2022 and beyond?
Yes – previously consumers may have seen smart appliance technology as a ‘nice to have’ but now it is becoming the driver when making a purchase due to the convenience and flexibility it offers. This is a sector that for the foreseeable future is on a one-way path – upwards!
Hoover has reworked its smart app with hOn. Does the fact that the app works across multiple brands [Hoover, Candy and Haier] help drive the smart message?
Absolutely. Not only does it drive home the smart message it also drives home our ambition of making connected appliances available to the mass market as through our three brands we are able to offer something at each level of the market.
Providing a central hub to remotely control, monitor and manage appliances from all three of Haier Europe’s brands – Hoover, Candy and Haier – the app includes downloadable programmes, recipes, tips and a chatbot function.
hOn offers multi-control through touch, voice and smart speakers and is capable of pairing to a product in less than a minute. Users can also review the energy and efficiency of their appliance(s), get real-time status updates such as the amount of detergent remaining in auto-dosing models, check product instructions and receive notifications for any maintenance required.
Does Hoover think there’s a need for open standards to make smart devices work together regardless of brand?
In 2020, the Haier Group decided to switch from branded apps (Hoover Wizard, Candy Simply-FI, Haier U+) to a single Group app, hOn, which is able to manage the appliances of all the brands of the Group.
hOn enables us to offer a coherent user experience across products, an extremely deep and complete set of functionalities and strong cyber security, having the full control of the system in our hands. For our users it means they can control appliances from any of the three brands, centrally via the one app.
As a brand, we are open to integrating services complementary to our appliances such as consumables and wine.
What has Hoover done to make smart tech more accessible? It’s often seen as quite a techy subject.
In terms of accessibility, being able to offer smart appliances through Candy, Hoover and Haier we have something for consumers working with all kinds of budgets. This is something we are very proud of and passionate about. Everyone should have the option of having access to the time-saving features connected appliances can offer, and with our connected Hoover washing machines available for just £50 more than a non-connected model, this is now a reality.
With regards to sustainability, connected appliances are future-proof purchases for the consumer. Manufacturers can adapt and create new programmes, all remotely, which are then available for users to download via the apps.
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Can you give an overview of some of your smart features and the benefits they bring?
Our most recent large scale built-in investment has been in our COLLECTION 3 cooking range, which comprises new connected technologies that allow remote control of the oven via an app, they can even be voice-activated via a voice assistant, such as Alexa. Clever time-saving cleaning features such as Hydro Easy Clean and Pyrolytic programming also mean that ovens can be easily cleaned, without the need for chemicals or detergents.
Part of the collection, the H-HOB 700 INDUCTION HTPSJ644MCWIFI gives access to the ‘MyChef’ function, which you can set specific modes including keep warm, melt, simmer, boil, pause cooking and check the hob status via an app on your phone.
Looking at our laundry range, some of our smartest washing machines models in the H-WASH range include features such as ‘Scan to Care’ – where you can take a photo of your garments’ label and create a virtual wardrobe, storing all your clothes’ washing instructions and suggesting the best programme to take care of them. This savvy function through the award-winning hOn app, means consumers can remove annoying and unsightly labels and still ensure their clothes are kept looking their best.