1. Smart home has become a megatrend. How important is this topic for Bosch home appliances? Where do you see the opportunities and where do you see the risks as a manufacturer?
The topic is becoming more and more important in the area of home appliances, e.g. in laundry care, cooling or cooking. Consumers are increasingly recognising the benefits that smart networking brings them: namely, time savings, safety, convenience, and often also greater efficiency and sustainability. The limits are where consumers become patronised or even controlled by technology.
As a manufacturer, it is of central importance to us that people retain control and that important decisions lie exclusively with them. Within this framework, we continue to see great opportunities for the smart home - across all home appliance categories.
2. Smart products have already found their way into our everyday lives. This is also reflected in the large selection of solutions and the number of suppliers in this market segment. Bosch Hausgeräte recently launched the first oven with artificial intelligence. How long did this development take?
Of course, we didn't develop the artificial intelligence oven overnight. It was preceded by a phase of intensive development work and, above all, coordination work between IT specialists and home appliance specialists.
The challenge was to decide under which circumstances such artificial intelligence can actually be of practical use in an oven and how the user's data can be fully protected on the one hand, but used for the AI unit's "learning process" on the other.
The final result was the first oven on the market that predicts when cakes or roasts will be ready and takes into account the individual preparation of the food in the oven.
3. From a technical point of view, Bosch is linking the sensor technology it has already successfully developed with artificial intelligence. In this way, you want to strategically advance the diverse opportunities that are opening up for consumers. Where do you see the potential of smart home appliances with Artificial Intelligence and where do you currently see the limits?
We don't think that artificial intelligence alone is already the solution to all challenges in the home. But we think that in combination with classic engineering, creative solution strategies and modern technologies such as sensor technology, it will better fulfil many challenges of today and tomorrow.
In concrete terms: Bosch sensor technology with the PerfectBake baking sensor and the PerfectRoast roast thermometer already ensures perfect baking and roasting results in the oven with artificial intelligence. Both help to determine and predict the ideal cooking time.
In combination with machine learning, however, this opens up a new dimension: the networked oven optimises its prediction based on a growing amount of anonymised data from numerous baking and roasting processes. Over time, it will therefore become increasingly clever when it comes to the exact end of preparation of the individual recipe.
We see limits to the use of artificial intelligence in home appliances - as already mentioned - where humans begin to lose full control over their appliance.
4. Bosch has been pushing the development of intelligently networked home appliances for some time. However, the application of artificial intelligence is still quite new. What is the concrete benefit for the end consumer?
Artificial intelligence helps to optimise the exchange between the machine and the material world. With artificial intelligence, the machine understands its spatial and functional environment in a completely different way than before - and can react better accordingly.
In this way, it makes everyday life more comfortable for all of us: it relieves without changing. And because we are convinced of these positive effects, from 2025 all our products will have Artificial Intelligence or be developed or manufactured with its help.
Surveys show that, in contrast to users in the USA or Great Britain, consumers in Germany often view the topic of smart homes critically. The main complaint here is the lack of data protection. How do you deal with this issue as a company?
We are very concerned with the question of how artificial intelligence can and should be regulated in the interests of users. The secure handling of data and the anonymisation of data are key points here. We committed to a special AI code at the beginning of 2020.
It stipulates that every AI product must comply with our slogan "Technology for Life", which combines striving for innovation with social responsibility. We want to develop safe, robust and traceable, but above all trustworthy AI products.
We not only strictly observe data protection regulations that already exist, but we are also researching, together with others, into the future of secure, trustworthy artificial intelligence.
Harald Friedrich has been the Chief Executive Officer of Robert Bosch Hausgeräte GmbH since August 2011. He began his career in 1990 at Neff GmbH in Bretten. He then worked for BSH Hausgeräte GmbH in various sales and marketing functions in Scandinavia. During this time he also lived in Stockholm for 5 years. Following this, he was head of BSH's international key account management and also responsible for Central and Eastern Europe as BSH's sales manager until 2011.