EDRs or "black boxes" now are contained in a wide range of consumer products including copiers, household appliances, alarm systems and cars. "EDRs" can provide a final data picture of how a product was last operating before a failure happened. Technological advances include building EDRs with a read write tamper proof cabability. For example, an unexpected rise in temperature or surge in power can trigger an EDR that may support an eye witness observation that a product was on fire, smoking or operating erratically. Critics condemn EDRs suggesting they are surveillance monitors akin to those used by "Big Brother" in George Orwell’s novel "1984." The reality is far different. EDRs objectively record data within state prescribed privacy legislative requirements.
Smart Technology refers to systems that monitor and diagnose appliances while in use to include home energy and security systems. Those systems can control heating and air conditioning systems to increase safety while saving energy. These systems can take measurements at pre-determined intervals by use of meters and controls.
Major companies such as Panasonic, General Electric and LG offer Smart Technology systems. LG offers appliances with THINQ Technology that meters and controls "smart" refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves, ovens, etc. LG offers a smart diagnosis program that claims to notice when a home appliance does not operate properly and issues alerts. That system will soon become WI-FI capable. Panasonic has a product line called ECONAVI, that covers 30 household appliances and will monitor usage and a user’s living environment. GE offers a similar program called Nucleus Energy Manager that collects real time information on a product’s usage.
Subrogation professionals should encourage their consultants to actively seek out and recover EDR information when available. That data may provide a wealth of information about the operating parameters of a product believed to have been involved in a failure. That data can then be evaluated and assessed as part of the overall subrogation investigation.