Booming market in smart rice, smart stains
As China's growing number of home chefs care more about food safety and nutrition, they are creating a booming market for smarter home appliances.
Market leaders such as Midea and Whirlpool, along with several startups, showcased some of their new high-tech offerings — many with artificial intelligence — at Thursday's opening of the AWE Appliance and Electronics World Expo in Shanghai.
The show is the biggest of its kind in the country.
Among the shiny new gadgets are refrigerators that control temperature and humidity according to whether you are storing steak or tuna, AI rice cookers that cook according to the type of grain and washing machines that automatically identify stains.
“Household appliances have been deeply integrated into a safe, healthy and conformable lifestyle to create happiness for people,” said Jiang Feng, president of the China Household Electrical Appliance Association.
Shenzhen-listed Midea Group, which invested 10 billion yuan (US$1.49 billion) on research in 2018, displayed its smart fridge which uses AI sensors to detect different items in the unit, bringing intelligent cold delivery to vary treatment of such items as tuna and beef.
Midea also offers a “Rice map of China” cooker that uses its lab-based database to determine the best way to cook thousands of varieties of rice.
At more than 3,000 yuan (US$448), the cooker helps break Midea into the once Japanese-dominated high-end market.
In the past five years, Midea has invested 30 billion yuan in research to meet the “customized and updated” demands of consumers, said the company's research head, Xu Chengmao.
US-based Whirlpool, which has been in the Chinese market for 25 years, launched several new products, including the EMPEROR washing machine which uses intelligent technology to automatically identify various types of clothing and stains.