Household Goods

The Home of Tomorrow Will Be Full of Silent Electronic Chatter

On your way back from work, the climate control gets ready to greet your return home with a temperature that’s just as you like. As you reach the front door, the kettle switches itself on ready for your cup of tea. And as you enter the kitchen, the oven is displaying suggestions for your evening meal based on the contents of your fridge that it checked just a moment ago.

Sound far-fetched? Not if you track the innovation emerging within the home appliances technology space. The trend of networking home appliances to combine their controls and key functions is clear and increasingly your home will become smarter and better connected. Your thermostat will start communicating with your phone’s GPS position so it knows where you are and when it should switch on the heating. The “Internet of Things” is set to come to home appliances in the future, and maybe as soon as the next two years. According to Samsung, within that time, nine out of ten household appliances will be internet-enabled and controlled by mobile phone, tablet or voice command.

Other innovation includes automated vacuum cleaners, energy efficient induction cookers, microwaves without turntables and washing machines that talk to the dryer and synchronize their cycles to maximize energy efficiency.

These advances in domestic convenience are being overwhelmingly led by Asia, with 16 of the top 20 organizations based in China, Japan or S Korea.

Despite flat year-over-year innovation activity, China's Midea Group Co and Gree Electric Appliances take the first and third slots in terms of overall global household appliance innovation. Second and fourth slots are held by Japan's Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric, respectively; LG Electronics takes #5.

In terms of scientific research, domestic appliance work is led globally by Zaragoza University in Spain. It is focused on refinements for domestic induction cookers and other appliances, techno-economic assessment of an off-grid photovoltaic-powered community kitchen for developing regions, and the design of ambient intelligent systems in the context of assistive technologies. Despite a Spanish institution taking the spot for the largest number of domestic appliance-related research papers, China and the U.S. vie for the most prolific domestic appliance research nations over the last decade.

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“Electrolux has instituted a concept known as the Innovation Triangle, requiring the Marketing, Design and R&D departments to cooperate throughout the development projects. Having clear processes and tools for innovation supports the organization in taking projects from idea to reality, and being able to do it again and again.”

Jan Brockman Chief Technology Officer, Electrolux

Patent Activity

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PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES

Change from 2013
*Unique innovations may be represented in multiple subsectors.

Top 5 Companies

  • 1 Midea 3608
  • 2 Panasonic 1631
  • 3 Zhuhai Gree 1314
  • 4 Mitsubishi Electric 1081
  • 5 LG 776
  • 1 BSH Bosch & Siemens 767
  • 2 Miele 211
  • 3 Electrolux 183
  • 4 Arcelik 136
  • 5 Philips 113
  • 1 Whirlpool 304
  • 2 General Electric 107
  • 3 Carrier 65
  • 4 Honeywell 57
  • 5 Trane Int Inc 45

(Patent Data as of March 2015) Total number of documents by region