More efficient, energy-saving and easier to clean
Semiconductors can not only significantly increase the effectiveness of appliances in the white goods sector and enable new features; they can also form the basis for entirely new applications. The use of inverters to control electronically regulated motors in appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, air-conditioning systems, fridges and freezers can reduce power consumption significantly by double-digit percentage figures (in some cases high double digits). They also significantly reduce noise during use and extend the operating life of the appliance, particularly where sensors are used. Energy harvesting is also made possible by using the heat of pressure cookers or from simple pans with accessories integrated into the lid. This would be sufficient to feed a temperature and pressure sensor, small MCU and RF to communicate the status of the cooking. No excuse for burned food anymore! Microwave ovens provide a good example of a new application that has only been made possible by semiconductors. The microwaves are typically produced using magnetrons, which need to be cooled using ventilators. This is a complex, costly and (unfortunately) rather loud process, as well as delivering a relatively uneven power output and requiring expensive, cumbersome shielding. To improve the power distribution, magnetrons are often used with rotating aerials or turntables. Microwave ovens with high-frequency power semiconductors are considerably more efficient and distribute power far more consistently within the chamber. They also reduce the need for a cooling fan and make this process less noisy. In addition, this technology makes new and innovative microwave designs possible, including smaller ovens or actually working with car batteries. One other domain of innovation is Human Machine Interface. Seamless surfaces are a must when it comes to cleaning white goods. This is now possible with capacitive touch technology under plastic and with Piezo technology under metal. The latter allows haptic feedback as well as significantly improving the user experience. Then, for higher end devices like ovens and fridges, we start to see touch-screen with low cost gesture recognition and connectivity enabling users not only to control the equipment but also to order food directly over the net, reading news or getting recipes.
Power & gardening tools
Autonomous, watertight devices
Almost every Do-It-Yourself enthusiast owns a cordless screwdriver, as well as other useful devices such as power drills and jigsaws. An increasing number of tools other than screwdrivers are becoming cordless. EBV Elektronik provides active support for its customers in this field, including the implementation of suitable electronics for motors, power and charging. Semiconductor technology is the basis for the increasing use of wireless, autonomous and remote operation in the design of various gardening tools, such as lawnmowers, scarifiers and sprinkler control systems. Wireless charging in particular provides a number of advantages, such as making it far easier for manufacturers to make watertight devices.
Identification of authentic consumables
All major manufacturers dream about famous coffee machine business models, selling not only the device but consumables during the product lifetime. One means of controlling and avoiding copy is to use low cost RFID devices authenticating the consumables. Important reasons for authenticating accessories are safety and functionality. Manufacturers can clearly identify original accessories when providing spare parts, for example for a smart phone. An ID tag in an external speaker purchased as an original accessory can for example be used to activate a software routine that ensures particularly clear and optimally adjusted sound reproduction. A conventional area of application for ID tags is in print cartridges for printers where only original cartridges (identified by ID tags) enable a special high-quality print mode. In lithium-based rechargeable batteries, IP protection can also play an important role because lithium batteries require load voltages and load currents that are very accurately adjusted to the battery chemistry in order to prevent thermal runaway. The simplest solution for protecting the entire device is to only permit the use of certified original batteries – and this certification can be implemented easily by ID tags. Protection against exceeding agreed production quantities can also implemented effectively using ID technology: if for example a manufacturer is contracted to produce 100,000 devices, then the OEM provides 100,000 specially encoded ID chips, without which any remaining devices cannot be operated.
Technology improvements als in daily devices
Vacuum cleaner and lawnmower robots have been on the market for some years now but all technological improvements also apply here. For example, wireless charging will allow waterproof design; solar panels will extend battery life, and camera sensors will allow smarter robots.