Global Trends in Smart Homes and how IMSE® can benefit them

Whitepaper

27.5.2022

16.5.2022

Home Appliances
Elina Peltola

Global Trends in Smart Homes and how IMSE® can benefit them

In today’s fast-paced, tech-savvy world, smart appliances are an essential part of our surroundings, facilitating daily living and helping us to save time and energy. From the smart lock that lets us enter our homes to central temperature control or intelligent kitchen appliances, homes are becoming increasingly smart spaces, connected through wireless networks and controllable through phone applications or main hubs. We at TactoTek are dedicated to making surfaces smart by turning conventional structures into interactive surfaces with seamlessly integrated technology – without sacrificing sustainability. Read on to discover which business advantages our IMSE® (in-mold structural electronics) offers and how it helps to make your brand stand out while facilitating manufacturing processes and reducing your ecological footprint.

Challenges for Designers and Product Developers

With more smart devices coming to our home environment, demands continuously increase. Smart appliances are expected to be user-friendly, resource-saving, customizable, and flexible while blending well into their surroundings.

All of these confront product developers and designers with new challenges. Complex electronics must be integrated into easy-to-use devices, enabling modifications straightforwardly while giving enough design freedom to create a unique product. In addition, some smart appliances need to resist harsh environments, such as moisture or humidity or extremely low and high temperatures.

Want to learn more about the use of IMSE? In our webinar “Smart Surfaces for Smart Homes,” we introduce practical examples of the use of IMSE® technology in smart home environments.

Smart Surfaces for Smart Homes Webinar

 

How can IMSE help?

By adding electronic functions in new form factors, IMSE technology overcomes design barriers and liberates designers by making them free to innovate. IMSE technology does not only makes surfaces thinner, lighter, and more durable, it also integrates aesthetic and tactile qualities into plastic, wood, and other surface materials.

Furthermore, IMSE creates multiple business advantages:

1. Brand Differentiation

Transparency of technical features and prices underline the importance of product design and its fit to consumers' personal needs during their purchase journey. Increasing customer expectations of personalization possibilities lead to a demand for products that vary in shape, finish, features, and execution of tasks according to their preferences.

IMSE enables fast product updates and variant management for decoration and functions without tooling changes. Previously bulky devices can be reshaped or integrated into the holistic structure to open up new design languages while reducing the space and weight needed for added functionality.

2. Delighting user experiences

Good design should make people’s lives easier, and this implies that one does not need a manual to understand how the user interface of a smart device works. Nowadays, it is a matter of the fact that an HMI has to be intuitive. Focusing on humans and their needs is the main factor in designing interfaces, helping to reduce incorrect operations and creating a delightful experience. Therefore, product developers must consider how a consumer feels, touches, and interacts with the device. A good HMI combines function and aesthetics.

IMSE offers the needed capabilities and properties to let such demanding HMIs become real by combining shape, touch, sense, connectivity and illumination within one thin functional surface, turning it into an interactive experience.

3. Simplified Manufacturing

Global supply chain management grew increasingly complex long before the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost of raw materials needed for manufacturing home appliances has increased significantly late and will likely continue to grow. Energy, ocean freight, and global storage are more costly, not to mention the component shortages industries have faced in the past years.

IMSE provides a business advantage by offering a smarter, more efficient way to manufacture electronics that keeps the total cost of ownership down by minimizing materials, optimizing manufacturing processes and reducing tooling requirements, while realizing a high manufacturing yield.

IMSE designs minimize or eliminate dedicated external printed circuit boards, light pipe structures, antenna components, and related electro-mechanical assembly. Additional savings come from reduced tooling requirements, assembly costs, inventory carrying costs, and supplier consolidation.

4. Reduced Ecological Footprint

A green lifestyle is here to stay, and environmental impact has increasingly influenced consumer behaviors and purchases. Companies are forced to adjust their portfolios to meet consumer demand for products with a lower ecological footprint and consider the "circular economy" that takes their products from idea to end-of-life management and reuse. At home, the smartness of appliances typically means improved energy efficiency resulting in lower energy bills.

TactoTek’s IMSE technology helps to develop sustainable products that meet the needs of today’s environmentally conscious consumers and the all-time tightening governmental regulations. Design and manufacturing smart appliances with IMSE technology reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60%.

Other sustainable features include:

  • Up to 70% reduction in size and weight by simplifying and reducing the number of materials and manufacturing toolings needed, which leads to a substantially reduced number of supply chain steps.
  • Decrease the need for printed circuit boards by up to 90%, which results in a significant reduction in toxic waste.
  • With the help of IMSE technology, plastic use can be reduced by 70%. TactoTek uses and verifies recycled and biobased plastics to take it even further.
  • IMSE technology is 100% recyclable with conventional methods, and the next step for recycling is pyrolysis which makes IMSE recycling economically viable. TactoTek’s goal is a closed-loop in materials used in IMSE, which means the total recovery of metals and plastics from all waste generated during IMSE manufacturing and the recovery of all materials from IMSE parts.

Read more about the reduced environmental impact of IMSE from the initial design through the end-of-life.

A new approach with IMSE

To achieve the liberation that IMSE can bring to design, a new way of thinking is required. Brand owners and suppliers have to reconfigure their work to flourish in the new era of smart surfaces.

TactoTek works with partners across the value chain to support brand owners and suppliers, helping them realize the very best capabilities of this new and exciting technology.

Contact us to learn more.

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