Will RFID make the smart home brilliant?

Trendspotting by Pushstart Creative


Consumers will get more value from the Internet of Things (IoT) when we give our smart homes more things to think about. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags — a low-cost way to make “dumb” objects knowable to a given system — are gaining traction across an array of commercial applications. These tags may also be the key to the “last mile” challenge IoT faces with consumers.

Consider clothing. As much as we consumers love fashion, we also hate laundry. Not only is clothing care and maintenance a drag, each step of the process is prone to error — as many a discolored t-shirt, shrunken sweater, or scorched blouse can attest.

RFID technologies are already helping clothing manufacturers and retailers manage inventory, streamline checkout, and optimize shipping — but why stop there? Garments with embedded RFID tags could share information with smart home appliances to help us all look better with less effort. When smart home appliances meaningfully interact with objects, our experience of living with those objects is transformed:

Sorting

A smart bin helps organize clothing items into logical groups while balancing load size.

Washing

A smart washing machine reads embedded RFID tags, references the care instruction database, and automatically designs the best wash cycle — no controls needed.

Drying

The smart washer pushes an alert to notify the user that a pair of jeans should be removed before drying. The smart dryer understands the components of the load and creates the optimal drying cycle.

Ironing

The smart iron detects the garment’s RFID tag to automatically adjust temperature and steam settings to match care instructions.

Cleaning Services

Tagged garments add value even outside the smart home. As items make their way back and forth to the dry cleaner, they can be scanned and tracked to help reduce loss and update the customer on status. This practice is already making its way into commercial laundry.


And that’s just the beginning. Once our connected ecosystems are aware of what’s in our wardrobes, there’s potential for all kinds of extensions. Take shopping for example. As the rise of popular clothing subscription services Trunk Club and StitchFix prove, many of us hate shopping about as much as we hate laundry.

To deliver value, personalized shopping services must gain an immediate, in-depth understanding of a our tastes. RFID tags can provide data on what’s already in a wardrobe — plus the frequency of wear for each item — allowing us to skip lengthy surveys and receive better service. RFID data could be gold for user reviews and loyalty programs, too.

Consumers may not yet see the value of IoT in everyday life, but low-cost RFID is well positioned to change all that. By making more objects known to connected ecosystems, RFID tags can help people accomplish things they really care about — like looking better with less effort. And that’s what will make our smart homes brilliant.


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