Connecting to a smarter lifestyle

Marco Signa, Connectivity Strategy Sr. Manager Whirlpool EMEA, explains how connected appliances can help make everyday life effortless

Imagine how different your life would be if your home always knew what you wanted and gave you a helping hand without being asked. It sounds like science fiction, but we’re already seeing digital technologies starting to transform the way we live — making our homes increasingly smarter and more connected. One of the companies at the very forefront of this transformation is Whirlpool, which has recently launched its new W Collection, a suite of premium connected appliances which uses Internet connectivity to help make everyday life effortless: an experience being brought to life in Whirlpool’s #SensingYourWorld campaign. We caught up with Marco Signa, Connectivity Strategy Sr. Manager Whirlpool EMEA, to discuss the W Collection range, #SensingYourWorld and the exciting possibilities of the connected home.

Hi Marco, it’s a pleasure to speak to you. Whirlpool has been a pioneer in bringing connectivity to household appliances and we understand that you’ve been working in this area personally for several years. What do you see as being the main drivers for bringing connectivity in our daily experience?

That’s a great question and the answer is simple — it’s all about consumers. At Whirlpool we strongly believe in innovation that answers the needs of consumers and truly enhances our lives. Today we are all living busier and fast paced lives and that’s why there is a real appetite for smarter ways to save time on the things we enjoy less so we can focus on the things in life that matter. At the same time we now view technology very differently — with smartphones, technology has become more personal and rewarding. We love the simplicity and convenience of interacting with our world via smart devices — and increasingly via voice activated smart assistants in the home. We have come to expect this same user-friendly experience in virtually every other walk of life. In this respect, technology has reshaped our expectations as consumers and connected appliances offer the freedom to interact with them by using the latest technologies and offering daily convenience, if desired. This simplicity and intuitiveness is what consumers love about connected appliances.

You mentioned freedom: is there a risk of having too much connectivity?

Any feature can be too much if this doesn’t answer a need. Even in a traditional appliance, a feature or button that is not used adds complexity. That’s why the focus on the consumers’ needs is so important — any innovation has to serve to enhance the daily experience, making everyday things simpler and extraordinary results more achievable. But we also understand that sometimes even the most advanced consumers may want to do things ‘the old way’. The beauty of our connected solutions is that you can have the best of both worlds, so there is no risk of having ‘too much connectivity’!

Can you explain how Whirlpool’s W Collection appliances use connectivity to offer an enhanced user experience?

Whirlpool believes that connected appliances can make everyday routines far more enjoyable and efficient, thanks to increasingly natural and effortless interaction. There’s a good reason we are talking about the new W Collection range with the #SensingYourWorld campaign, which focuses on the value of technology that is able to ‘listen’. This new collection of appliances was designed by listening to our consumers’ needs. By using the 6TH SENSE Technology the appliances offer a more intuitive and stress-free way to achieve perfect results every time.

As well as employing connectivity to allow convenient remote interaction via our 6TH SENSE Live app, our new products are increasingly integrated with each other and into our connected homes and lives for a truly seamless optimized experience. The appliances work together actively to make the user experience simpler. By also linking into the wider ecosystem of connected devices in the home, we are also unlocking exciting new possibilities such as voice control, via smart assistants.

Can you tell us more about how the connected W Collection appliances can work together?

When appliances talk to each other, everyday tasks become simplified: For example, the new connected hoods can automatically start to filter the air with the right aspiration power when the induction hob is used, or activate during the oven pyrolytic cleaning cycle. A further example is that the lighting on the hood can be used to provide notifications from other appliances, so you could set the lighting to pulse when a specific cooking program on the oven or microwave requires attention, or to tell you that the dishwasher or washing machine has completed a cycle.

How can the app make everyday life easier?

Whirlpool’s 6TH SENSE Live Technology offers a convenient way to interact with all of our connected devices via a single intuitively designed app. As well as offering remote control of features and timely notifications, for example on cycle status, it can also provide useful tips and guidance to help you get the most out of your appliance and make any maintenance tasks simple. In addition, all cooking products can take advantage of features such as a meal planner that helps to take the stress out of planning their weekly meals. You can discover and explore hundreds of chef-created recipes according to your tastes and dietary preferences and the app automatically creates shopping lists for you. It even works seamlessly with the guided cooking features on these appliances, so you can select recipes on the app and have your appliance handle timings and temperatures, with step-by-step guidance on the appliance or app according to your preference. Again, it is all about convenience and flexibility.

You mentioned smart assistants and the ability to use voice control. Can you tell us more about Whirlpool’s integration with Google Assistant and the benefits this brings?

Voice opens up a huge world of possibilities. With voice control, you don’t have to think about how to manage your appliance — it speaks your language!

At the start of 2018, we announced that Whirlpool would introduce support for smart assistants in selected products, with voice command capabilities to be featured throughout the kitchen lineup. We recently demonstrated an oven at EuroCucina that showed how you could use Google Assistant — the smart assistant offered on products such as Google Home smart speakers — to interact by voice with an appliance. On the oven you could do things such as set and start a cycle, ask how much time is left to the end of the cooking process, or switch off the oven — all now possible by ‘talking’ to your product. It takes convenience to the next level and gives a further choice to users to interact with their product the way they prefer.

Once more, it is important to emphasize how practical this can be. Hands-free control is incredibly helpful when you’re busy cooking or when you wish to keep on top of things from elsewhere in the home.