Vodafone research and development engineers have built a prototype recall system that will enable household appliance manufacturers to monitor the performance of devices and even shut them down should safety be compromised.
Smart – or internet connected – products and appliances are becoming more commonplace nowadays. But IoT [Internet of Things] is not only a technology to enable consumers to manage their lives remotely, it also enables manufacturers to manage the performance and safety of their products.
There are already 100 million devices and appliances connected on Vodafone’s Global IoT platform.
Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone Group, 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 prototype system will enable manufacturers to notify consumers immediately and automatically should the need for a product recall arise. Although the risk is small, hundreds of fires have been caused by faulty white goods over the last decade, according to government figures – tumble dryers being the most recent example.
The Vodafone Safety Alert Message Indicator, an LED light on the product, is linked to a miniature electronic device that connects to the Vodafone IoT network.
The Vodafone Safety Alert Message Indicator will remain green if all is well, change to amber should there be a need for the consumer to contact the manufacturer, or shine red is there is a fault which needs immediate attention.
In a worst-case scenario, the manufacturer would be able to shut down the product remotely to reduce the risk of harm to the product, or the consumer.
Another issue that might arise is locating the product itself. As the original customer may have re-sold the appliance, some product recalls can be difficult for manufacturers to carry out.
Vodafone’s prototype platform also enables manufacturers to make new owners aware of potential safety issues.