German appliance manufacturer Miele announced a new line of connected appliances at IFA today. At the front of the pack is its new flagship washer, currently called the W1 Prestige. Offering a top-level energy efficiency rating along with 9-kg (almost 20 lbs.) capacity and a spin cycle that can turn at up to 1,600rpm, the W1 gives users might and flexibility. The 3-hour cycle is efficiency rated, but you can clean your clothes in less than an hour by selecting one of up to 26 presets, supposedly without any loss of cleanliness.
Accompanying the washer is the T1 dryer. Also boasting of efficiency, the dryer can dispense fragrances automatically throughout the cycle, giving your clothes a customized scent when they're ready. Both the W1 and T1 appear to have an impressive array of physical features, and Miele will use them as a jumping board to expand the connected capacity of its appliances as well.
Miele isn't new to smart appliances. The InfoControl Plus application has been available for more than three years and can control numerous Miele-brand appliances. Today, to go along with the W1 washer and T1 dryer, Miele announced a new Miele@Home brand that will take the company's connectivity even further when it launches in 2015 by allowing users control of compatible machines even outside of their home Wi-Fi network.
The app portion of Miele's plans, Miele@Mobile, will be free at launch, though the company has not confirmed that it will stay free. It'll be available for Android (versions 4.1 and later) and iOS 7. Bosch and Siemens have made similar announcements today at IFA. No release date or pricing information is yet available for the W1 or T1.
As far as the app, at first, it will be tailored for the W1 and T1, in addition to other washers, dryers, and even dishwashers. Users can set the cycle and start each, can check on the progress remotely, and can even customize spin speed and when to add fabric softener. According to Miele, the app will give users full control over all three machines, allowing almost all operation to happen remotely.
You'll still have to load the dirty clothes or dishes into the appliances yourself, of course. Plenty of connected appliances have already tangled with the dilemma of adding remote convenience to functions that require presence. We've tested connected ovens from both GE and LG, which deal with the added safety concern of turning on heat when you're not around to monitor it.
However, GE showed a good example of how a balance can be struck, and Miele provided some useful examples for its appliance functionality. Turning on the washing machine when you're on your way home would certainly provide fewer safety concerns than turning on your oven, and perhaps that's why Miele has started with these three appliances for its expanded connected appliance line.
Its new app will even offer push notifications. The most obvious use for this will be getting an alert when the washer or dryer has finished a cycle, but Miele has added a few more detailed options, such as notifications that it's time to clean the filter on the dryer or add the rinse aid to the dishwasher.
Which machines besides the new high-end washer and dryer will work with the app remains to be seen. Both the impressive specifications of the new W1 washer and T1 dryer and the functionality of the app look to have Miele positioned well in the blooming smart appliance marketplace. It'll need a wide range of connectivity and interoperability to truly keep up, but it has taken steps toward this end as well.
More than 400 Miele appliances now offer some level of connectivity. Older models can even be retrofitted to include a communication module. Certainly all of these won't be ready for the full control of Miele@Home at launch. However, Miele has helped found Qivicon, a cross-brand networking platform, with other leading German industrial companies.
Both Siemens and Bosch made their connected models part of the Home Connect open standard in a similar move. The hope is that consumers can control many brands with a single app, and even have multiple appliances communicate with each other. Whether the Home Connect standard or Qivicon's Home Base becomes more widespread remains to be seen. And whether either will be able to keep up with or become compatible with Apple's upcoming HomeKit is another story.
That said, by making many of its appliances ready to connect and broadly compatible, Miele has positioned itself to quickly expand with the growing smart-home trend. How much that compatibility means as many different cross-company standards form and shift has yet to be determined. Miele might gain a meaningful position as a standard-bearer if both its app and the new washer and dryer can deliver on their lofty promises.