Over in the consumer tech industry, we're focused on evolving the Internet of Things (IoT) which includes a series of interconnected devices that all work together to make our work and personal days seamless. Smart appliances have long been a part of that, but Haier is hoping to take it up to another level.
Coining the term "Internet of Clothing," Haier showcased the "world's first" smart laundry room at the Appliances & Electronics World Expo (AWE) in Shanghai, with the goal of serving as a one-stop solution for washing, air drying, and folding your clothing.
The washing machine analyzes the clothing material, water quality, and detergent type, then completes a wash cycle. Once the wash is done, the smart folding machine, which is installed on the laundry rack, detects when the clothes are thoroughly dried, and sends a reminder to you via the Haier U+ app to suggest that you initiate the auto-folding function. The appliance can then analyze the type of folding, and actually fold it for you accordingly. Tap into the app to check on progress, so you know when to head downstairs and grab your clothes to put them away.
"In addition to upgrading the technologies in our laundry appliances, we wanted to create a smart laundry room scenario that can help customers organize tasks in an unprecedented way," says Li Yang, Vice President and Washing Machine General Manager at Haier. "The appliances in the network now interact with each other to monitor the progress of washing and drying efficiently, thus providing a convenient, hassle-free laundry experience."
Haier's IoC ecosystem works with more than 4,800 apparel resources to integrate washing machines, smart wardrobes, dressing mirrors, ironing machines, and other products.
Other IoC demonstrations from Haier include a 3D virtual clothing try-on service for apparel retail stores; smart styling according to weather, scenarios and preferences; locating clothes accurately in a smart wardrobe via an advanced management system; professional ironing with automatic material analysis; and a smart shoe washing machine that washes and cares for footwear using advanced AI image recognition technology.
Li notes that it's an open platform. "Haier's IoC is looking to work with all kinds of resources to further expand the scenarios and provide more smart solutions for our customers."
Will we be receptive to the idea of automated laundry? Washing, drying, and folding clothes is certainly one of those mundane yet necessary household chores that take time and care in order to do at least on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. But we also invest heavily in our clothing, with some forking over a lot of dough for expensive items that we might not trust to an automated system. That said, for washing and drying of everyday clothing, if a system like this truly works, it could be a game-changer - particularly for apartment buildings, laundromats, hotels, or other commercial hospitality spaces, not just homes. That said, if your kids don't yet know how to wash their own clothing and fold their own laundry, now might be the time to teach them. If IoC technology takes off, it might eventually become an obsolete art.