3 Recommendations for Reducing the Costs and Complexities of Certifying Smart Appliances

Smart home appliances that connect to the Internet are the future. Judging by what we saw at Digital Destinations 2016, the recent Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers' (AHAM) annual meeting, that future is fast approaching. Smart appliances promise to make their users' lives easier, and even more fun. This means manufacturers must adhere to new safety and security requirements. But adopting three best practices will reduce the costs of demonstrating compliance. These steps must happen before the manufacturing process of any appliance, smart or "dumb."

The near future looks bright for manufacturers and retailers. According to a new AHAM report , 26 billion so-called Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices will be in nearly every home by 2020. It also predicts IoT appliances will have an economic impact of $250 to $350 billion by 2025.

At Digital Destinations, we heard about a wide range of amazing appliances:

  • Dishwashers that operate remotely if we forgot to turn them off before leaving home.
  • Refrigerators that take upon themselves to order new groceries.
  • Ovens that send out alerts when meals are ready.
  • Clothes dryers that warn owners when the vent needs cleaning.
  • Appliances that service technicians can repair without visiting the home.

Smart appliances will offer features that rival what we saw in the old The Jetsons cartoons. But consumers also have concerns over issues of safety, privacy, and security. Issues that manufacturers have never had to address.

AHAM is working to develop a risk assessment tool for remote operation of home appliances. It's also collaborating with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission and other standards bodies to improve product safety.

ESC Minn logoBuilding out the IoT. Get down and dirty on hack-proofing C/C++, cryptography basics, IoT device creation in 45 mins, taking your IoT design cellular, debugging tips and tricks and more in the Connected Devices and the Internet of Things track at the Embedded Systems Conference , Sept. 21-22, 2016 in Minneapolis. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News ’ parent company, UBM.

The goal is to establish standards in these three areas:

  • Safety: Connected appliances must meet the same quality and safety standards as all appliances. They must also address government requirements that require safety mechanisms users can operate remotely. These include protective overrides of door locks and remote starting features.
  • Privacy: Customers are willing to provide personal information to manufacturers and retailers. Reasons include warranty coverage, maintenance, and product information updates. Smart appliances can connect to their smartphones and access a wider range of personal information. That does not allow manufacturers and vendors to loosen their restrictions on only collecting information with its customers' permission. They must also provide regular updates on how they're using customer data.
  • Security: Manufacturers must build security into their smart appliances. This means following industry-standard security protocols, encryption, security reviews, and testing. That must happen before the product reaches the market. Consumers expect their computers and other connected devices to protect their information against theft. And they'll expect the same with smart appliances. They will demand the ability to update firmware and create strong passwords. Manufacturers

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