Caixin
Mar 09, 2017 06:44 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Home Appliance Giant Haier Targets Internet of Things

People visit the Haier display during an exhibition in Beijing in August. The appliance giant plans to open 300 “experience stores” in China to promote its “smart” home equipment. Photo: IC
People visit the Haier display during an exhibition in Beijing in August. The appliance giant plans to open 300 “experience stores” in China to promote its “smart” home equipment. Photo: IC

(Beijing) — Chinese appliance giant Haier Group will open 300 “experience stores” in the country to promote its “smart” home equipment, which can automatically direct a variety of household gadgets.

The stores will be located in major cities throughout China, the company said Wednesday.

The first such store was opened in February in Qingdao — the city in Shandong province where Haier is based — allowing customers to get a sense of how “the internet of things” can change daily life.

Users can choose different meals on a computer screen of the Haier refrigerator, which then will send signals to stoves, ovens and other appliances to get the devices ready for cooking. If the refrigerator is short of food, it’ll alert users, who can buy items on online stores through the screen.

In the living room, Haier’s smart television can help monitor the indoor level of PM2.5, tiny cancer-causing particles up to 2.5 micrometers in diameter, a major contributor to smog in China, and turn on air purifiers automatically.

Prices for the various devices have not been disclosed.

The 33-year-old home appliance maker has been focusing on the “smart home,” especially after it acquired the appliance unit of U.S. rival General Electric last year.

GE is a front-runner in the work on smart appliances and revealed a lineup of such devices at the Consumer Electronics Show, commonly known as CES, in 2015. The devices included ovens, refrigerators and water heaters that users can use smartphones to control. A year later, the firm updated its technology, allowing the appliances to connect with each other.

Technicians have never stopped dreaming about an automated home in future society, suggesting a huge business opportunity for the sector. As the most populous country, China has a promising market, where sales could quadruple to 250 billion yuan ($36.2 billion) in five years, according to a report by China Business Research Institute.

Contact reporter Coco Feng (renkefeng@caixin.com)

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