LG, Cisco, Bosch and ABB have agreed on an open standard for connected home appliances, with a software platform to build internet-ready fridges, washing machines and other consumer goods.
The four companies have signed a memorandum of understanding on the topic and will set up a consortium to develop an open standard for software to control "smart" home appliances. The standard will be open to any home appliance manufacturer, will support different standards, like Wi-Fi and ZigBee, and should also include application support that will allow devices to be integrated into home automation and home control systems, like those from Crestron and Control4.
The consortium's idea is to consolidate various communications standards into a single central home unit that connects to the internet, letting users control multiple devices through a single interface both at home and remotely. That unit could be built by any manufacturer, as long as it meets the consortium's software standards.
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2013, appliance makers including LG showed off a range of smart home devices ranging from TVs to robotic vacuum cleaners and washing machines. Bosch is a big name locally in washing machines, dryers and dishwashers, Cisco is an Internet and networking giant, while ABB is a Swiss multinational company with a long history of industrial and commercial network management and automation.
The consortium's idea for a connected home.
The combination of the four companies brings together expertise in both home appliance devices and remote management. The development of a common platform means consumers may find it easier to control their internet-connected and smart home appliances or that different devices from different brands will be able to communicate to conserve energy or automate basic home tasks.
Bosch Software Innovations marketing manager Christian Heinrich blogged about IFA 2013 on October 1, commenting on the lack of a unifying standard for connected home devices. He suggested a future where a smart oven and smart fridge work together to catalogue the necessary ingredients for a cake and build a shopping list for a consumer. Smart devices exist in most categories but are currently unable to communicate.
LG's 2012 ThinQ internet-connected fridge.
LG previously purchased the webOS mobile and tablet operating system from HP in February and plans to use it in "a range of consumer electronics devices", according to LG Electronics CEO Skott Ahn, including its 2014 smart TVs. A variant of or ideas from webOS may form the basis for the connected home standard.