RFID- and NFC-Enabled Smart Washing Machine Detects Fabric, Supports Remote Maintenance

Smart appliance demo showcases broad portfolio of NXP solutions

What if your washing machine could detect what you’ve put in the laundry and adjust its own settings automatically? This week, NXP Semiconductors is showcasing its RFID– and NFC-enabled smart washing machine demonstrator at Embedded World in Nuremberg, Germany, featuring advanced yet practical wireless functionality. The most popular feature of the demo is fabric detection: The washing machine reads information about the fabric type and color from RFID-tagged buttons, helps you avoid mixing white and dark laundry, and optimizes the washing program based on the characteristics it reads from both the clothing and the detergent itself.

Another popular feature of the demo is NFC-based maintenance: Using an NFC-enabled phone, an authorized maintenance technician can perform diagnostics on the smart washing machine onsite, change its status, upgrade firmware, and launch an app that communicates directly with the manufacturer’s service center using the phone’s built-in 3G connection. A close-up view of the latest NXP smart washing machine demo is available here:

“Major home appliances are becoming ‘smarter’ by the day – yet we’ve only started to explore the universe of possibilities when it comes to two-way communication,” said Jan Willem Vogel, senior director, industrial applications marketing, NXP Semiconductors. “We’re particularly excited about our new smart washing demonstrator, which brings together our advanced application insights, our expertise in RFID and NFC, as well as our broad-based understanding of the complex sub-systems driving white goods today. The demo also showcases the breadth of NXP’s portfolio – the most extensive in the semiconductor industry when it comes to home appliances.”

Other sub-systems highlighted in NXP’s smart washing machine demonstrator include:

  • User interface and system management for complex washing programs. Washing machines today offer consumers a wide range of settings for different temperatures, cycles and fabric types, all controlled via a single board. The NXP demonstrator features the LPC1227, a robust 32-bit microcontroller based on the low-gate-count ARM® Cortex™-M0 platform. The LPC1227 provides significantly higher performance and functionality compared to 8-bit MCUs – with up to 50-percent better code density – enabling the same NXP microcontroller to be used not only for system management, but also to run software stacks for power monitoring, NFC and RFID. It also features an internal RC oscillator with one-percent accuracy.

  • Reliable motor and load control. The same LPC1227 microcontroller is used to drive and control multiple loads in the washing machine, including the motor. As part of the demo, NXP will show how the 32-bit microcontroller is used to directly drive high-noise-immunity triacs – the BTA316 and ACT108 – eliminating the need to use any driving scheme in between. The LPC1227 features particularly relevant here include high current GPIOs, deterministic division algorithms in ROM, and certified compliance with IEC 60730 safety standards.

  • High-efficiency power supply with very low standby power. The washing machine power supply consumes less than 10 mW in standby mode, thanks to the high-efficiency GreenChip™ TEA1721 SMPS controller IC with integrated MOSFET. The system also offers quick wake-up from standby to full operation.

  • AC power metering. Power consumption of the smart washing machine can be monitored and displayed cost-effectively, encouraging stronger energy awareness among consumers. Data on power consumption can also be transmitted to a remote service center or to the electricity provider – all controlled via the main 32-bit host controller.

  • Wireless communication via IEEE 802.15.4 with a smart meter or home automation / energy gateway. The smart washing machine demo features an FCC- and ETS-compliant module based on the ultra-low-power JN5148 wireless microcontroller. The wireless module supports a wide range of protocol stacks, including ZigBee® PRO Smart Energy and Home Automation, JenNet-IP (6LoWPAN), and RF4CE for remote controls.

NXP will showcase the smart washing demonstrator at Embedded World 2012 in Nuremberg, Germany from February 28th through March 1st (booth 4A-222).