GE’s FirstBuild Leads the Way to an Industry Standard for IoT for Appliances

LOUISVILLE, Ky.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today FirstBuild™, GE Appliance’s global co-creation community, is
launching a challenge that paves the way for a future where home
appliances will have apps and app stores. The challenge illustrates how
the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the home. FirstBuild is leading
the way to define an open industry standard enabling continuous updates
to the most interactive part of a home appliance – the control panel.

Earlier this year GE’s FirstBuild partnered with Canonical, the company
behind Ubuntu, to debut its ChillHub refrigerator, a connected platform
that allows makers and software developers to build new features for
their refrigerator. With this latest announcement, they are challenging
that same community to define the interface to enable IoT functionality
on all home appliances, essentially making it easy for future developers
to create apps via the open source snappy Ubuntu Core IoT operating

The challenge launches today and runs for three weeks. The public can
vote on which submissions will move forward to be judged by a panel of
industry experts.

“We are trying to make app enabled appliances that make connectivity
easy and available to everyone,” said Venkat Venkatakrishnan, director
of FirstBuild. “This new model makes it possible for the online
community to help us conceive and determine how new appliance
functionality will be adapted to existing major home appliances, which
consumers expect to keep for 10-20 years.”

“By developing universal standards for upgrading appliances we have the
opportunity to bring uniformity and adaptability to consumers
everywhere, extending the usefulness of home appliances,” said Kevin
Nolan, vice president GE Appliances. “With long-lived app enabled home
appliances there will be a need for a simple way to plug in a
micro-server, power this micro-server and connect the micro-server to
the appliance’s microcontroller. Consumers will look for a standard
applicable to any type of home appliance from any vendor and even
applicable outside the home.”

“This contest is about defining an open standard for any SoCs to be able
to build boards that can be easily plugged into any smart home
appliance,” said Maarten Ectors, Vice President of IoT at Canonical.
“Developers want easily available, well supported and price effective
boards that are used at large scales inside home appliances. This makes
writing apps a lot easier.”

The contest is free and open to the public. Cash prizes will be awarded
to the first, second and third place winners. Judges will choose winners
based on cost, durability, ease of hardware substitution, and ease of
appliance integration.
is a physical and online community dedicated to designing, engineering
and building the next generation of major appliances. It fosters
co-creation among engineers, designers, makers and home enthusiasts
around the globe, who can participate in the development of appliance
breakthroughs to address current challenges, and ensure that it is
bringing products to market that people actually want. Community members
identify market needs, participate in product development, and watch via
social media as ideas speed from mind to market in only a matter of
months at the FirstBuild Microfactory in Louisville, Ky.

About FirstBuild

FirstBuild is a new model for designing, building and bringing home
appliances to market. A partnership between GE Appliances and Local
Motors, FirstBuild brings together an open community of industrial
designers, engineers and other innovative minds to collaborate on new
product designs that are rapidly brought to life at the FirstBuild
Microfactory. For more information on how to get involved, visit

About Canonical

produces Ubuntu,
the leading open-source platform for cloud, personal computing and
next-generation devices. Ubuntu introduces a new mobile experience for
phone users, a smarter ecosystem dynamic for developers, and
unprecedented differentiation opportunities for carriers and device
manufacturers. Ubuntu ships on millions of PCs annually, aimed at
education, government and enterprise markets. Ubuntu also enables
next-generation devices at the heart of the internet of things.


For more information:
Kim Freeman, 502-452-7819