At the IFA Consumer Electronics show, which runs until Wednesday in Berlin, the companies are demonstrating the mobile management of a washing machine and other home devices connected by Vodafone’s Global M2M Platform running on IBM’s SmartCloud Service Delivery Platform.
The collaboration is cited as further progress towards the ‘Internet of Things’, a vision of a wide range of devices being identifiable and controlled remotely.
The IBM/Vodafone approach is to use Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology to connect home appliances wirelessly to the internet. Using M2M consumers could, for example, use their smartphones for a variety of remote activities including viewing their home's utility consumption; controlling security, heating and lighting systems; and activating home appliances. It would also enable manufacturers and service providers to collect data from appliances to enable better product maintenance and development and enhanced services to consumers.
Review: The combined technology will make it possible for appliance manufacturers to more easily implement wireless connectivity to home networks and hence to consumer devices. It potentially gives consumer electronics companies the ability to offer better products and services, hence the demonstration at the Consumer Electronics show.
But there are significant green possibilities here as well. One of the aims and benefits of smart meters and smart grids is the ability for utility companies to offer demand response and differential pricing, an increasing necessity with the growth of renewable energy and potentially a win-win for utilities and consumers.
Controlling devices remotely, which is what the IBM/Vodafone collaboration is about, gives added possibilities for consumers to benefit from differential pricing. You could, for example, load the washing machine or dishwasher before you go to work and then wait until the best tariff is available during the day before starting it up remotely.
I can imagine a smartphone app that tracks tariff changes and switches appliances on when a certain pre-set cost level is achieved, a bit like some share dealing software now.