With sleek and sophisticated touch-based human machine interfaces (HMIs) now so prevalent in our everyday lives—thanks to widespread adoption across the portable electronics sector—continued use of mechanical functions elsewhere seems increasingly antiquated. One area in dire need of a makeover is household appliances. Capacitive touch sensors, similar to those featured in tablets and smartphones, are the obvious route by which to accomplish this, and they are already available in appliances introduced by certain well-known brands. However, wholesale adoption of such technology will likely struggle to address the particular characteristics that define the appliance market. OEMs therefore need to be aware of alternative possibilities that are better suited.
Figures compiled by industry analyst firm GFK state that the global market for larger household appliances (refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, cookers, etc.) was worth almost $180 billion last year. Its analysts identified demand for smart operation and improved user interaction as the main dynamics responsible for driving future growth. By adding greater sophistication to HMIs, it will be possible for more satisfying user experiences—consequently enabling appliance OEMs that exploit this to boost sales and strengthen their market share.