Slowly the idea of everyday appliances and devices being connected to the internet and communicating has gone from the initial mocking of ‘internet fridges’ to being increasingly accepted and desirable, particularly withe the ‘Internet of Things‘, which refers to ‘uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure’. That’s because business will have far greater information and control over every single object in their inventory and can respond to stock level changes effectively in real time.
Meet my washing machine. It’s a Zanussi, bought almost five years ago. And roughly once or twice a year it has a complete breakdown, which happened again yesterday with a load of bed linen inside it, just to make it particularly inconvenient.
It was after office hours, so this morning I had to phone the service centre. They then have to contact the local engineer, which they no longer do directly. Instead (presumably due to sub-contracting), I now have to wait for that engineer to call me to arrange a time for a visit, and due to my own work commitments, it’s likely to be two days.
He’l then come and inspect the machine, decide whether he can repair it, or if he needs to order new parts, or if it needs replacing, at which point I may be able to convince someone to provide a replacement, by which time my young family will have created an epic backlog of washing, and I’ll be desperately hoping not to have any client meetings in the meantime.
If only my washing machine was connected:
But if my washing machine was connected to the internet of things, then it could be slightly different. As with more critical business equipment, when the fault appears, the washing machine could inform the service centre and the local engineer not only that it has broken, but also any appropriate fault code to indicate the problem.
It wouldn’t have to wait for office hours, or sit around for a call back to arrange a time. And with an accurate fault code, the engineer would already be able to decide whether a repair or replacement is likely, and could put everything in place to minimise any delays.
And most importantly, I wouldn’t be sat here slightly fustrated by the very helpful but inevitably hamstrung call centre staff, and would probably be praising the companies involved, rather than regretting the fact I ever bought an unreliable Zanussi washing machine and their ‘Mis-Appliance of Science’.