Vodafone builds NB-IoT remote control and product recall system for white goods
Vodafone has built an NB-IoT prototype that allows appliance manufacturers to notify consumers of faulty or dangerous electrical goods, and shut them down remotely if needed. It is targeted as a smart ‘product recall system’ for manufacturers, mostly, of white goods like tumble dryers, washing machines, fridges, and freezers.
Vodafone said it is already working with appliance manufacturers on mobile controls and network technology, including embedded NB-IoT to enable remote control and notifications in case, for instance, a freezer door is left open, or similar. The company is now collaborating with the same customers to improve home safety of white goods.
The new remote control system and ‘safety alert message indicator’ (SAMI) use an embedded NB-IoT module, about the size of a SIM card, to enable manufacturers to notify consumers of issues with their equipment, and even to disable appliances in high-risk scenarios. Messages can be sent over NB-IoT to LED displays on appliances to notify about recalls.
Vodafone said in a statement: “With many large appliances recalled each year and serious faults frequently linked to fires, the SAMI [system] overcomes the issue of manufacturers not being able to contact the affected customers. This is particularly relevant if the appliance is not registered to a postal address or is re-sold. The manufacturer can also keep an audit trail of messages delivered successfully to their customers using this Vodafone service.”
The solution works independently of the host product and uses only a small amount of direct current (DC) battery power to avoid the mains power supply. The SAMI product has received innovation awards from both the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and UK charity Electrical Safety First (ESF).
Johan Wibergh, group chief technology officer at Vodafone, said: “Our technology is already allowing manufacturers to let consumers control home appliances when they are out and about. Now we have the potential to help manufacturers stay connected to their products in the field, enabling them to manage more effectively both servicing and safety recalls.
“The initial feedback from fire brigades for our system in development has been positive and we are now looking to work with manufacturers to make the IoT Safety Alert Message Indicator a reality. This is especially important at a time when the number of electronic appliances per household are predicted to increase and we spend more time at home.”