Connected products also are a smart play for manufacturers by enabling them to stay connected with their customers like never before. Smart products can deliver maintenance reminders, special offers, recall notices and other notifications at prescribed intervals. The data captured by these devices can help manufacturers get to know their customers better. For example, by gathering usage data, washing machine manufacturers can know which of the functions owners use most, helping with future product development. Sensors in the appliances can trigger alerts when a component is about to fail, allowing customers to set up service calls proactively, which boosts customer loyalty. Even information about how much detergent customers use, water temperature preferences and wash cycle choices could be packaged and sold to detergent companies as consumer insight information.
At the same time, connected devices are becoming fairly inexpensive to manufacture, and they can be sold with a higher price tag. In general, connectivity can be added for a material cost of about $10, plus the cost for app development and cloud hosting. While lower cost devices, such as coffee makers or toasters, may not be able to support the added cost, larger ticket items (washers/dryers and refrigerators, for example) can. Much of it depends on the added convenience and value the connected device brings to the consumer.
The possibilities presented by smart products are very attractive, so designers are thinking of ways to add connectivity to products. Along with adding the Internet component, smart products present other unique design considerations.