Traditionally, the white goods community gathers the first day of IFA at the Siemens press conference. Being the largest European white goods maker, BSH, with the Bosch and Siemens brands, usually steals the show with a large set of innovations. This time was different. Just a few new models, mostly upgrades, and (yes, we know) an app for both brands, with the usual functions which competitors have shown before in the recent Milan Eurocucina show. At the Siemens stand the biggest change was the stand design: a bit more frivolous, with more concepts and predictions instead of just products.
More news at Miele. The world’s premium white goods maker showed two new products: a wine conditioner and a new fragrance feature for dryers. The wine conditioner offers many of the same features we already know, such as different temperature zones, charcoal air filter and vibration-free operation, but also a nifty new option: SommelierSet. This allows the wine to decant inside the cabinet. For coffee and cola lovers: after you open the wine, a good thus expensive whine that is, the wine needs some time for the sediments in the wine to sink to the bottom of the bottle and be separated when pouring. You can ‘park’ the bottle at the correct slope, and there is also space to store a special carafe or decanter, as well as some wine glasses in the cabinet, so they all have the right temperature. It works, but it also looks good; Miele even acknowledges that it can be a great conversation piece (unlike your new washer).
The other new hardware is the dryer flagrance addition. Many customers add fabric softener because of the flagrance. Sadly, exiting the washer the laundry smells nice, but the high temperatures in the dryer remove much of the flagrance. Now, Miele mounted a small dispenser on the dryer door which effectively adds a choice of three flavors to your laundry. Not a high tech feature (no electronics needed, and no app) but effective.
In energy saving, some progress was shown. Not in the much-needed development of smart grid functions, but in integrating thermal solar power with a dryer. Last year the concept was on display, and this year the actual product is announced for 2013. In cooperation with solar power manufacturer Solvis, a dryer is connected to a stratified water storage heater. The hot water from the top of the storage tank is used to heat the air, and the water from the bottom cools the air and thus condenses the moist from the laundry. It works, and saves up to 80 percent power, but requires some installation effort: you need two sets of water pipes between the dryer and the storage tank. But hey, they did come up with a solution, so no whining about details.
A nice concept, to test public response, showed a washer without display and knobs, entirely operated through an app. Would you want to abandon the traditional one-knob operation for an entirely virtual control panel? Past products where knobs were replaced by menu’s or screen options were not successful, but as every possible object on earth gets its own app, it is only logical to test if users want to whip out the tablet in the laundry room. It does connect with younger audiences, whether or not it will work.
Generally, IFA shows again that Samsung is at war in Europe. There is a huge nighttime event organized for mobile products, as well as an event in a Michelin-approved restaurant for other products. More on that later this week.