Sears continues to shed its image as a staid, old-school retailer, introducing yet another line of new products for the smart home at an event in New York City on Wednesday. Among the 12 new products: A sensor-laden refrigerator that tracks how many times its doors have opened, a clothes washer that can be started from afar using a smart phone, a garage-door opener that sends alerts when you forget to close it, and a series of tool chests with Bluetooth locks. The company also extended its Kenmore brand to televisions for the first time ever; surprisingly, however, its first generation of Kenmore HD and 4K/UHD sets won’t be connected smart TVs.
“The home is the largest investment an American family is going to make,” Sears’ president of Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard brands Tom Park. “Our philosophy around the connected home is that these brands have been trusted for generations. If we can offer connected products that provide convenience and save consumers money, that’s important.”
Each of the company’s new connected products has built-in sensors that monitor the product’s performance. “The refrigerator, for example, collects 120 data points that can be shared through the app,” Parks said. “Our connected washing machine and water heater have built-in leak sensors that can notify the customer of a water leak, so they can take action before the home suffers water damage.”
What’s more, the connected appliances will send alerts to Sears’ service department if the appliance malfunctions. The service department will then contact the customer and let them know that the appliance needs servicing.
Park said that while its private-label products are manufactured by OEMs, not Sears, each one is designed and engineered by Sears’ employees—they’re not just cookie-cutter clones.
Why this matters: While the smart-home market’s overall growth remains stunted by battles over standards and protocols, long-settled infrastructure such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth has enabled many classes of home products to at least connect to the cloud and to our smartphones. And when companies as familiar to consumers as Sears jump on the connected bandwagon, it can only increase the technology’s mainstream appeal.
Sears previously announced a connected water heater, water softener, and even a connected lawn mower, and it’s experimenting with dedicated showrooms—both brick-and-mortar and online—to demonstrate and sell its own and other companies’ connected products. Here are quick looks at a few of the products Sears announced Wednesday, all of which will be available at later dates. Unfortunately, Sears has not yet announced pricing for any of them:
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