The Connected Consumer PREVIEW

Martyn Allen, Technical Director at Electrical Safety First, details how this year’s product safety conference will help the industry to understand the future of product safety – and the connected consumer.

Martyn Allen The next session will consider how safety and 10

consumer engages with a constantly evolving retail, technological and digital landscape. In fact, more than half the world uses mobile devices to connect, research and purchase, goods. You may think the term ‘connected consumer’ refers to a hip young digital native, but it covers a diverse demographic with many shared requirements. The pandemic has hastened changes that were


already en-route, and industry has had to respond flexibly to a fast-changing and challenging environment. A constant for retailers, however, is the need to understand the connected consumer – and accompanying issues – to advance their business. In this, the 13th annual product safety conference,

we will investigate the connected consumer from the interrelated perspectives of sustainability, designing for inclusivity, and the evolving legislative context around connected products. Held on 24 and 25 November, 9.00am to

12.00pm each day – the conference is once again being hosted online and is free to attend. We are still putting the final touches to the event but I can outline much of what we have in store for you. During the first morning, delegates will put their

questions to regulators in the ‘Ask us Anything’ session. The panel is comprised of representatives from various Government departments, including the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) – as well as the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV).

lectrical Safety First’s annual product safety conference has a history of bringing topical and emerging issues to the fore, and this year’s event is no exception. Today’s connected

inclusion should be incorporated into the product design process. We’ll discuss, for example, if connected products exclude certain groups, and identify opportunities for a more inclusive (and safer) design approach. We’ll end the morning focusing on sustainability

readiness and the potential conflict between repairability and safety – reviewing who has responsibility for sustainable change and how effective legislation is as its driving force. Throughout the day, delegates will have the

opportunity to put their questions and comments to our panel of experts and speakers. Thursday starts with a look at the ‘standards

gap’ and connected products. During this period of accelerating technological advances and the drive to market, the speed of product development often outstrips the slower standard- setting process. Although standards are safety fundamentals, ensuring a ‘level playing field’ for products,

they only establish minimal

requirements for legal compliance. Nor is a specified standard required to bring a product to market. However, proof of due diligence and risk mitigation – demonstrating the product’s safety – must be provided to relevant authorities, if required. So this session focuses on interoperability and IOT security, the potential impact on product safety, the supply chain and, of course, the connected consumer. The following presentations take discussions further by reviewing responsibility and

compliance for product safety. The first, from BSI, considers the business challenges around certification and compliance. The next, from OPSS, examines where responsibility lies in relation to AI connected products – and provide an update on related Government research. Then it’s our ‘fireside chat’, where our panel,

including the Head of Compliance Engineering for Google, discuss the consumer appetite for, and impact of, connected products. After a short break, the winners of our Safety

Innovation Award will then be announced. Last year’s award went to the E-Bulb from JOB, which offers device-integrated fire protection. According to Bodo Müller, JOB Group CEO,

the award has had a discernible impact: “Market awareness and new inquiries have increased, and it has also helped us accelerate the process of standardizing the E-Bulb as an additional safety component.” Our conference always attracts a ‘broad church’,

from retailers, manufacturers and test houses to Government departments, product safety lawyers, trading standards, and fire and rescue services. It’s this integrated approach – and by bringing to the forefront critical issues (and potential solutions) to our rapidly changing product safety environment – which explains the event’s appeal. We hope to see you there! For free registration and more information,

search for ‘Electrical Product Safety Conference 2021’ online, or click here:

October 2021

Clockwise L-R: Chris Evans, Product Lead at S2E4 Safety and Energy Consultants Ltd; Angie Yanqing Du, Head of Product Compliance Engineering, Devices and Services at Google; Kevin Sweeney, Director – Assurance at Intertek; Sadie Dainton, Consumer Policy Manager at British Standards Institute; Stephen James, Lead Engineer at BEIS Office for Product Safety and Standards; John McNulty, Director of Alphabet Core Engineering Solutions; Talia Coroniti, Research Lead at BritainThinks.

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