Android Appliances From Touch Revolution


This has to be one of my favorite Android stories from CES. An Android Washer and Dryer. An Android Microwave that runs Pandora Radio. An Android Printer/Copier/Scanner. An Android Desk Phone. And much, much more to come.

Almost exactly one year ago we told you about a company called Touch Revolution as they announced their Android-based NIMble Desk Phone. Mark Hamblin – CEO of Touch Revoluion – foresaw a movement where appliances and other office/home/mobile electronics could greatly benefit from the use of a touchscreen with integrated capabilities. Android was a vehicle to bring that vision to life and at CES they displayed their ability to do just that:

In terms of Android hardware, “outside the box” seems restricted to manufacturing tablets, netbooks and eReaders with Android slapped on. But home appliances integrated with a custom version of Android designed to meet the goals of that particular device? Very cool.

Touch Revolution doesn’t manufacture appliances themselves and do not sell finished products directly to consumers through retail channels. Instead, OEMs (Original Equiment Manufacturers) will come to them with an existing product (washer/dryer, microwave, coffee pot, etc…) and say hey, we like our product but would love it if it had a touchscreen and some added capabilities.

Added capabilities could be simple as you saw with the Printer and Washer/Dryer in the video – you wouldn’t even know those were Android-based because you’re restricted to using functions focused ONLY on the main directive of printing or washing/drying. This is interesting in and of itself that the free and open nature of Android allows Touch Revolution to bring an amazing touchscreen experience to its customers without having to rebuild the wheel. But looking up maps or coupons ON your printer and resizing and getting print previews using your fingers on the printer’s touchscreen itself? I’d say that’s a step forward.

WebMicrowaveThen there is the microwave which actually runs a FULL version of Android directly on the touchscreen panel. It probably isn’t necessary as the CEO admits, but it goes to show the company can take any existing product and integrate a wide range of experiences through Android – it just depends what type of experience you want to accomplish.

Right now EVERY product Touch Revolution works with utilizes the same solution – the NIM1000 NIMble Module – a 7-inch capacitive LCD touchscreen with Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, Bluetooth and more. nim1000introThey take this one “board” and integrate it as they see fit. While I’m guessing they’ll produce other sizes/combinations in the future, the 7-inch solution provides enough capabilities and has enough flexibility to serve a wide range of purposes.

One unexploited opportunity I see with Android is the use of Bluetooth APIs. I asked Mr. Hamblin if certain devices/appliances might have an Android Application component so you could control said device with your Android-based smartphone. He noted the possibility but this clearly wasn’t a focus. What IS the focus? Accomplishing whatever goals his partner’s have outlined.

I can tell you right now if I was a forward-thinking company who produced any type of appliances, home electronics, etc… I would be calling Touch Revolution to get the ball rolling. If I was a Venture Capitalist or had more money than I knew what to do with I would start dreaming up unique and interesting ways to integrate Android with existing, traditional electronics in non-traditional and more exciting ways.

The interesting thing about all of this to me is that while Touch Revolution is operating outside of the box they’re doing it in such a way that it seems logical and inside the box. It just makes sense. Hamblin says the company is already working with microwave and washer/dryer manufacturers to bring their solutions to the masses and I couldn’t be more excited to see how they fare and watch Touch Revolution continue to churn out Android-based solutions.

Hamblin suggested that medical devices could be a HUGE industry to benefit from Android integration and they note remote controls, portable kiosks and other appliances as up-and-comers as well. Where would YOU most like to see the companies solutions embedded in your everyday life? Or are you scared some enterprising serial entrepreneur is reading these comments waiting to hop on the opportunity of a lifetime?

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. I like this alot. :)

  2. they should’ve demo’ed a touchscreen for a fridge. You’d be able to keep track of everything you put in the fridge but also it is a great place for to-do lists, calendars, notifications etc since everyone in the house passes by the fridge. I use freshdirect.com or online shopping…I’d be able to come up with what I need to order while checking what I have in the fridge and just order it

  3. I think if everything were connected to allow same file access across a whole range of Android based devices (maybe even to Computers too, then I would like this alot.

    Needs a bit of a UI-polish, but otherwise a pretty good idea.

  4. The thing the makes this such valuable service to manufactures is that hardware people seem very nefarious in designing terrible interfaces. Like in the video talking about a microwave saying to consult manual for the code for chicken. Very typical.

    For instance, I just got a new receiver and it’s been a headache to setup HD component inputs, so I’m just saying screw it and buying an HDMI cable for my cable box and just plugging my Wii directly into the TV. Who needs quality surround for a Wii anyway.

    Another thought. Someone should design a microwave that can scan barcodes on frozen entres and whatever else in packaged goods someone wants to microwave. Then when you scan the product, the microwave would know how to cook it.

  5. @Andy: I really like your thought!

  6. @ari-free & Andy

    Good thinking. I’ve been wondering why any of this is news, but I’m clearly too old fashioned to think outside the box. This is what will take us to the world’s we’ve glimpsed in futuristic movies. Just hopefully not the Terminator movies, lol.

  7. I don’t know how much I would use this on a washer/dryer my home, but someone owning a commercial laundry house (laundromat) could charge a bit more for use of android based devices that people could use while waiting for their laundry.

  8. I definitely like the idea of having all appliance share the same android operating system with the ability to control and read data from any of the devices. So for instance I can start and stop my washer and dryer from the phone or decide to add more time to the cycle. For the times you loose your phone, instead of logging on your computer etc to track it, you could use any one of your appliances to check your phone’s latitude data etc…

  9. Great ideas! It would be great to have a barcode scanner of the fridge or counter top for groceries. Use it to create a shopping list and have it print off on the android printer. Another idea for some appliances, being able to few the status of the appliance from your phone, see how much time is left until it’s done (microwave, ovens, washer/dryers). Makes the old traveling question of “did you turn the stove off” just a quick check on the phone to confirm.

  10. Like Andy’s idea.

    I gonna make sure wifi turn off before use microwave, or do laundry or making coffee so Obama won’t know what I am trying to do..

    Maybe in the future, that would help retarded people or people with special needs to do themselves at home and taking medicine instead use social worker or nurse.. lol

  11. Wow…just wow to see where android is going is M~azing and dandy….

  12. Can i get one of thous 7″ touch screens to control my radio? andriod would make an awesome O.S. for a radio. If i could get ahold of one of these i would mout a radio in my glove box and use adroid as my radio interface. granted if it has a headphone jack or some type of audio out!

  13. I like this. But some day somebody hack my fridge and find out my shopping list and what’s in the fridge or worst crash or reboot :-)
    or somebody hack the microwave and explode what ever cooking.

    Good thing is if you forget the shopping list, you could download to your mobile or check what’s running short in the fridge

  14. It seems that only Android/Technology literate people will be able to use this. Also, how many people can actually afford these high-tech appliances?

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