For the past year or so, key companies in the appliance space have been working together on something important—the HCA (Home Connectivity Alliance), an open, industry-facing, member-driven manufacturers alliance comprised of global home appliance, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and TV manufacturers. Founding member companies American Standard, Arcelik, Electrolux, GE, Haier, Samsung, and Trane have come together to focus on discovering how appliance manufacturers can use connectivity to best serve their customers for the long run.
HCA president and board chairman Yoon Ho Choi, head of IoT (Internet of Things) business planning and partnerships at Samsung, says when HCA members embarked on this journey, the founding companies came together to discuss the unique characteristics of the appliance industry and discovered there needed to be a dedicated forum to do so. Choi told Connected World that in the past three years, there has been an uptick in the use of and importance of connected features on home appliances, both because consumers have been spending more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and because the use of AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) has made appliance connectivity much more meaningful to the average consumer.
“We spent many months on this to make sure (HCA is) not duplicating what something else is doing or is an extension of something else,” Choi says. Rather, HCA will be a dedicated space with a narrow focus on certain appliance categories—home appliances, HVAC, and TVs—with a layer of IoT. The alliance will also limit its focus to promoting interoperability via C2C (cloud-to-cloud) connectivity. “Our goal is not to reinvent another technical standard,” Choi says.
Homes are filled with multiple brands, and consumers want interoperability. They want their appliances to play nicely together. The industry has seen promises like HCA’s before. So what makes this different? Choi believes what they’re creating at HCA is distinctively different from other standards, and yet they’re not out there to supplant other standards—many of which the individual HCA members simultaneously support. “We are very open to working with other standards. As individual companies, we are also part of other standards,” he says. “Is it just words? Can we actually deliver on this? Being able to serve customers for multiple years is the main thing.”
HCA’s goals include enabling an interoperable connected home, making sure it’s safe, and facilitating long-term connection with consumers after a manufacturer’s initial sale of a home appliance. This long-term connection benefits the industry, allowing manufacturers to learn and develop better products that ultimately benefit consumers. HCA promotes the idea that consumers deserve the flexibility of purchasing from multiple brands without having to worry about locking themselves into a single platform or sacrificing their privacy. The alliance, Choi says, is bigger than any one member; rather, it’s all about the consumer. Even if HCA never develops a logo or is known to the average consumer, it’s impact on the customer experience will be known.
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