We are seeing more of the so-called “app-cessories” become available for most of the household appliances that are part of our lives. These have the household appliance and other devices gain Bluetooth to a mobile device or use the home network to link to the same mobile devices or regular computers and implement an app to add the extra functionality to these appliances. It will become the way where your iOS or Android device will become crowded out with the apps that are part of the “app-cessory” trend.
Now the electric kettle or jug has bitten this trend with a base that connects to the home network via Wi-Fi. Here, the “iKettle” electric jug works with a smartphone app that and your home network to add certain functions that drop in to your lifestyle.
For example, if you like to make that cup of tea late at night while you catch up on a favourite TV show lingering on that TiVo device or “prowl around” Facebook on that iPad on the kitchen island bench, you don’t have to worry about the loud whistle that it makes when the water’s boiled waking the rest of the household up. Instead, it effectively “pages you” through your mobile device.
Similarly, you could set it to start boiling at a known time so that the water’s ready so you can make that pot of plunger coffee when you have surfaced for the day. This is achieved using the same app exposing a timer function. This function also includes the ability to set up particular temperatures such as the 95 degrees Celsius ideal for making coffee and tea; or 55 degrees Celsius setting for water you quickly boil up for washing dishes because the water heater packed it in.
A problem that I see with the “app-cessory” concept as it is that most manufacturers can create their own islands and not allow the devices to be exposed to control and monitoring applications and setups other than their own setup. This can avoid the idea of creating environments where a device can respond to another device in a manner to create the “lifestyle mood” or assist its users. For example, having a kettle like this could interlink with a screen to guide a person with dementia through the process of making a cup of tea or similarly, if you have your kettle full before you leave home, you could have it start boiling when you enter your alarm code to disarm your house alarm as you arrive.
At least there is the flourishing concept of making a smartphone work with appliances as a lifestyle device.