Product/UX Designer
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A smart appliance reminder

 
 

Challenge

Create a design solution that encourages consumers to embrace a more energy-saving way of using home appliances instead of just informing.

Problem Space

>Why dryer?
From our research into all existing home appliances, we quickly narrowed down to the washer and dryer as our main focus. From there, we learnt that most people don’t know how to conserve energy when using their washer and dryer and yet washers use 10 times less power than dryers.

 

 

 

My Role

I collaborated with Nathan Potts and Yizhou Pan on this project from research to the final class presentation.

Research
Ideation
Sketching
Storyboarding
Wireframing
Crafting of final deliver

 
 

Insight from Research

  1. Using Energy at peak times tends to cost more and is harder on the environment because more inefficient power plants have to be active.

  2. By encouraging people to run their washers and dryers at night we can save energy and help save the environment.
  3. The washer and dryer are separate units. The dryer doesn’t have to run directly after the washer.

Design Core

We want to help users of dryers, schedule their drying in a more energy efficient way by breaking their mental model of traditional dryers that they must be run immediately after the washer has completed. By doing this, we hope to run the dryer at non-peak hours, allowing the user to save energy.

How it works

1. Set the time for ready to wear clothes
The user can set up the time they want their clothes to be ready and the application would suggest a specific time range for the user to move the clothes.

 
 

2. Reminder of unloading and loading
The application would remind the user to unload their clothes in the washer and load the dryer before they go to sleep according to the time they set up earlier in the day.

 
 

3. Reminder of the availability of warm clothes
The smart appliance application will remind the user that the dryer cycle has been completed and clothes are ready to wear.

 
 

Process

We learnt about the concept of smart grid systems before we jumped into any design ideas, existing technologies of Whirlpool’s smart appliances, and also the idea of slowly change people’s behaviors. We identified the mental model of using dryer has a tight connection with the usage of the washer without realizing there are separate units. This insight makes it possible for other alternatives of running the washer as it is and running the dryer separately at a non – peak hour, in this case, at night. We also came to realize different ways of influencing people’s behavior by the use of technology, for instance, if the action trigger is specific and visual enough. This might move people from A to A+, we wanted to engage both their rational side and their emotional side to make them feel positive things are happening to them in order to ultimately move them from A to B.

 
 

Story of Mary and Ted

It was important and fun experience for us to look through the eye of a family, especially the eye of the lady of the house. It helped us put our feet on the ground rather than over simplified the real life scenarios. The story helps us reflect on who we are designing for and different “what if…” situations, for instance, what if they have more than 2 loads of clothes to wash, what if they want to their clothes ready to wear right away, etc..