MRO Magazine

GE’s FirstBuild Leads the Way to an Industry Standard for IoT for Appliances


September 21, 2015
By Business Wire News

LOUISVILLE, Ky.

Today FirstBuild™, GE Appliance’s global co-creation community, is launching a challenge that paves the way for a future where home appliances will have apps and app stores. The challenge illustrates how the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the home. FirstBuild is leading the way to define an open industry standard enabling continuous updates to the most interactive part of a home appliance – the control panel.

Earlier this year GE’s FirstBuild partnered with Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, to debut its ChillHub refrigerator, a connected platform that allows makers and software developers to build new features for their refrigerator. With this latest announcement, they are challenging that same community to define the interface to enable IoT functionality on all home appliances, essentially making it easy for future developers to create apps via the open source snappy Ubuntu Core IoT operating system.

The challenge launches today and runs for three weeks. The public can vote on which submissions will move forward to be judged by a panel of industry experts.

“We are trying to make app enabled appliances that make connectivity easy and available to everyone,” said Venkat Venkatakrishnan, director of FirstBuild. “This new model makes it possible for the online community to help us conceive and determine how new appliance functionality will be adapted to existing major home appliances, which consumers expect to keep for 10-20 years.”

“By developing universal standards for upgrading appliances we have the opportunity to bring uniformity and adaptability to consumers everywhere, extending the usefulness of home appliances,” said Kevin Nolan, vice president GE Appliances. “With long-lived app enabled home appliances there will be a need for a simple way to plug in a micro-server, power this micro-server and connect the micro-server to the appliance’s microcontroller. Consumers will look for a standard applicable to any type of home appliance from any vendor and even applicable outside the home.”

“This contest is about defining an open standard for any SoCs to be able to build boards that can be easily plugged into any smart home appliance,” said Maarten Ectors, Vice President of IoT at Canonical. “Developers want easily available, well supported and price effective boards that are used at large scales inside home appliances. This makes writing apps a lot easier.”

The contest is free and open to the public. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners. Judges will choose winners based on cost, durability, ease of hardware substitution, and ease of appliance integration.

FirstBuild.com is a physical and online community dedicated to designing, engineering and building the next generation of major appliances. It fosters co-creation among engineers, designers, makers and home enthusiasts around the globe, who can participate in the development of appliance breakthroughs to address current challenges, and ensure that it is bringing products to market that people actually want. Community members identify market needs, participate in product development, and watch via social media as ideas speed from mind to market in only a matter of months at the FirstBuild Microfactory in Louisville, Ky.

About FirstBuild

FirstBuild is a new model for designing, building and bringing home appliances to market. A partnership between GE Appliances and Local Motors, FirstBuild brings together an open community of industrial designers, engineers and other innovative minds to collaborate on new product designs that are rapidly brought to life at the FirstBuild Microfactory. For more information on how to get involved, visit www.FirstBuild.com.

About Canonical

Canonical produces Ubuntu, the leading open-source platform for cloud, personal computing and next-generation devices. Ubuntu introduces a new mobile experience for phone users, a smarter ecosystem dynamic for developers, and unprecedented differentiation opportunities for carriers and device manufacturers. Ubuntu ships on millions of PCs annually, aimed at education, government and enterprise markets. Ubuntu also enables next-generation devices at the heart of the internet of things.

For more information:
FirstBuild
Kim Freeman, 502-452-7819
Kim@firstbuild.com