NEW YORK — Haier America is producing Braille-texted room air remote controllers for blind and visually impaired consumers.
The MagnaClik remotes, which Haier described as an industry first, also feature magnets that hold them to the sides of ACs or other metal surfaces for easy storage and retrieval. An audible click sounds when the remote has been attached securely.
Haier, the sales and marketing arm in the Western Hemisphere for China’s Haier Group, said it consulted with Lighthouse International, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving vision and helping people of overcome the challenges of vision loss.
“The addition of Braille text on our air conditioner remote controls demonstrates Haier’s commitment to a barrier- free user experience for all consumers,” said Andrew Ziegler, senior product manager in Haier’s innovation and engineering home-comfort group. “Haier’s new MagnaClik remote control offers real-world convenience to sighted and sight-impaired consumers.”
More than 25.2 million Americans are blind or visually impaired, according to the 2008 National Health Interview Survey, and as the population ages the incidence of age-related eye disease and visual impairments is expected to increase dramatically, Haier said.
In addition to its barrier-free remote, the company has also launched numerous sustainable design initiatives that include converting all of its room air, portable AC and dehumidifiers to the eco-friendly R-410A refrigerant, and is expanding its assortment of Energy Star-qualified products.
What’s more, more than 95 percent of Haier’s 2010 home-comfort product line is RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) compliant, which helps keep lead and mercury out of landfills, while its home comfort products now come in substantially smaller packaging, which enables Haier to ship more products in fewer containers, reducing its global carbon footprint, the company said.
Haier’s home-comfort group has also launched a “3-In-One Comfort” branding initiative on 2010 retail packaging, with logos that clearly identify the features of multifunction products, such as air conditioner-heater-dehumidifier.
Looking ahead, Haier’s next-generation ACs were unveiled earlier this month at SINOCES in Qinddao, China. The fluorine-free conversion models can save 5.2 kilowatts/hour of electricity and can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.7 kilograms, the company said.
Elsewhere at the show, Haier showcased its “Ubiquitous Home” (U-Home) technology, which “keeps them connected to the world when at home and connected to their home when outside,” the company said. By leveraging the Internet, mobile communications and fixed telephone connections, users can remotely operate U-Home-equipped majaps such as refrigerators, ACs, TVs and washers from any location.
Haier described its Web-connected refrigerators as “the most energy-efficient multi-door refrigerators in the world,” with daily power consumption of 0.78 kilowatts/hour. The units can monitor food freshness and suggest meals based on the consumer’s body type, while offering a variety of online options including an Internet video phone.
Also at the show were Haier’s S-drive frequency conversion washers, developed with GE, which can cut power consumption by up to 20 percent and water and noise by up to 30 percent, while greatly improving cleaning action, the manufacturer said.
None of the products shown at SINOCES are immediately planned for the U.S. market, Haier told TWICE.