Smart and connected products take centre stage at houseware show

12THE 120th International Home + Housewares Show held in March this year saw a concerted focus on smart and connected products with the inaugural IHA Smart Home Pavilion featuring 18 new and current exhibitors displaying emerging technologies and the latest in smart and connected products, as well as 70 other smart exhibitors located in the different halls at McCormick Place, Chicago, USA.

The 2017 show garnered rave reviews from buyers and sellers, with 2,204 exhibitors from 47 countries featuring a treasure trove of eye-catching innovative products that are beautifully designed and fully functional.

3“We are very pleased with buyer attendance, which was nearly on par with last year’s record numbers, particularly international, which was very positive with buyers coming from over 125 countries,” said Phil Brandl, president and CEO of the not-for-profit International Housewares Association (IHA), which owns and operates the soldout show.

“Noteworthy this year is solid growth in buyers from key international markets, including Japan, South Korea and India as well as several Latin American and European markets.

“In addition, senior-level representative attendance from both retailers and suppliers was particularly strong.”

The Discover Design Expo, in its second year in the North Building, also attracted much attention as it was the design destination at the show.

7Prior to the official opening of the show on the morning of March 18, the New Exhibitor Preview attracted more than 600 buyers and media attendees. The event offered buyers and media the opportunity to meet with 90 first time exhibitors, up from 60 in 2016. “Response from the ‘Preview’ buyers are very positive, and we anticipate attendance to continue growing as more buyers want to begin their day earlier,” Brandl said.

The show also included a series of thought-provoking educational sessions, including keynote presentations on colour and design trends and how consumers’ emotions affect colour choices by Lee Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute; a panel of thought leaders discussing the impact of the ‘Smart Home’ on housewares; an overview of consumers’ values and expectations by Tom Mirabile of Lifetime Brands; and a focus group of millennials discussing housewares facilitated by Warren Shoulberg and Maureen Azzato of HFN.

In addition, the Innovation Theatre offered 21 presentations on the smart home and connected products; age and gender marketing; and retail and consumer lifestyle trends.

6The ‘Smart Home’ revolution began about five years ago with the proliferation of smartphones, and manufacturers responding to the lifestyles of the new millennials started to introduce connected products. And as society enters deeper into the Internet of Things (IoT) era, the race to produce connected products for the home has gained momentum.

An interesting panel discussion at the Innovation Theatre was on How the Smart Home is Disrupting Housewares (And What to Do About IT?). The video recording of the session and other educational webinars are now available at www.housewares.org/education/ presentations-webinars.

One of the panellists was Nathan Smith, the founder of Wink, a unifying moblile app that enables home owners to control a host of smart products, including small appliances, light bulbs, thermostats and locks from more than 40 different brands.

According to the company, the Wink Hub 2 can be easily connected to your local Wi-Fi network (2.4GHz or 5GHz) or Ethernet. Once connected, it will empower users to control Wi-Fi-enabled home gadgets with just one app.

4Grow your own microgarden or herbs in your kitchen?

SproutsIO Inc, the company that promotes a high-performance hybrid horticulture (hydroponic and aeroponic) system for consumers to grow vegetables and herbs indoors, has launched a Tastemaker Programme for world-class chefs to grow difficult-to-source organic non-GMO varietals in their kitchens.

The company integrates a growing device, seed refills and softwarecontrolled system that uses only 2% of water of conventional soil-based system and half the power of an incandescent lightbulb. By doing so, users can grow and have access to out-of-season varietals anytime and in their own workplace!

This app-controlled microgarden system is just another indication of a new wave of connected products that use new technologies to allow professional chefs as well as homemakers to grow a variety of herbs indoors all year round.

5Indeed, the ubiquitous smartphone that allows us to take high-definition photographs or video in an instant has also created a demand for high-quality digital displays in homes.

At the Memento Electronics Inc booth in the Smart Home Pavilion was an attractive Wi-Fi-connected picture frame. You can upload up to 3,000 photos from your smartphone, tablet or computer to the Memento Smart Frame and create your own slideshow list.

German Algora, the company’s vice president (sales), smiled: “The 4K digital photo frame can connect you instantly to your most precious memories by displaying your digital photos in ultrahigh definition.

“The frame comes in different sizes and colours to match your wall. Its built-in light sensing technology can automatically switch off the display when the house lights are off for the night.”

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In the South Building, there was a constant stream of visitors making a beeline to Hestan Smart Cooking, Inc. The company was demonstrating a connected cooking experience — the Hestan Cue, a video-guided cooking system that automatically controls temperature and timing of food being cooked on an induction burner.
HestanCueThe smart cookware, induction burner and recipe app all communicate with each other using Bluetooth technology and embedded sensors — automatically adjusting the cooking temperature and time as one proceeds through each step of a chosen recipe.

Invited to try my hands at cooking some scallops, I put on an apron and let the Hestan Cue app be my coach.

Cooking scallops has always been a daunting task for me as I tend to overcook them. However, the step-bystep video recipe developed by a team of chefs and software developers and engineers at Hestan Vineyard in Napa Valley, California, was easy to follow.

In reality, Cue is a most dynamic cookbook cooked up by Michelin-star chefs. From perfectly grilled cheese to black seabass with dill and caviar emulsion, Cue walks you through each step with easyto-follow video guidance. It promises that even if you have never julienned an apple, you will be able to do it by following the cue on your iPad.

HestanCue2As Hestan Cue automatically controls the critical cooking variables — time and temperature — I was able to proceed cooking the scallops with confidence via Bluetooth; it monitors and sets the optimum cooking temperature for me each step of the way.

Result? Three scallops cooked almost to perfection!

The final test, of course, was in the eating. I offered two of the scallops to a food blogger and her companion to taste. “Thumbs up,” she signalled.

To view how Hestan Cue can elevate your cooking skills, log on to www. hestancue.com and you can also obtain an 11-inch frying pan and the portable induction burner at an early bird offer of just US$549.95 (S$766.75), instead of US$649.95. And, of course, you will be entitled to the free download of the Hestan Cue app that contains more than 100 delectable recipes by the food-loving Hestan team in Napa Valley.

KitchenTwinsFrom Italy, TVS brought in its new Teorema Cookware designed by worldrenowned Michael Graves Design.

The Teorema line, which can be used on any stovetops and in the oven, features eyecatching curves and ‘smart’ high-gauge aluminium material that guarantees heat will be distributed evenly. Coated with three layers of Top Tek Pro, it has excellent resistance to scratching and abrasion as well as being easy to clean.

The special profile of the Teorema cookware handle forms a curve that can be used as a spoon rest during cooking, thus preventing food residue from touching the cooking surface or the countertop.

Demonstrating the new cookware were the 13-year old “Kitchen Twins”, Emily and Lyla Allen, who whipped up family-style Italian dishes. They have been blogging about healthy eating and cooking since they were nine years old and have appeared on national media conducting cooking classes.

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11Over at the Hong Kong Pavilion, director/general manager Charles Zheng of Cheng’s Ceramic was happy that his range of hand-painted ceramic bowls, saucers and tea sets caught the attention of buyers at the show.

“We have some good leads and serious enquiries,” he said. “Our fine tablewares are of high quality and all our products are competitively priced.”
And for buyers looking for nonstick oven liners, BBQ meshes or mats, grilling bags and anti-slip floor mats, Jiangsu Esone New Material Company has them all. Its 54,000sqm factory in Jiangsu Province, China, is equipped with advanced machines from Germany that can produce a wide range of highquality non-stick reusable mesh mat for baking pizzas, grilling meats and mesh baskets for deep-frying chips.

“Our non-stick silicone baking mats and reusable lift-out liners for baking cakes or bread are all FDA- and LFGB-certified,” said Steven Xiong, the company’s export manager.

12“The company also offers OEM service,” he said, adding that Esone is looking for distributors in South-east Asia for its range of cooking aids. He can be contacted at steven@chinayoungsun.com.

Indeed, year after year, the show has been an interesting and important marketplace to source for new ideas and products. Find out what new trends will emerge in 2018 at the 121st International Home + Housewares Show that is set for March 10-13 at McCormick Place in Chicago, USA.

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