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Customize Appliance UI

Enable more than one User Interface on complex appliances
  (+5, -2)
(+5, -2)
  [vote for,

PROBLEM: The "one size fits all" nature of most appliance UIs renders them unusable by certain demographic groups.

SOLUTION: Standardize the ability to customize the UI on any modern household appliance.

RATIONALE: Consider an average household microwave oven. The UI ordinarily consists of a keypad with numbers, a START button, a STOP button, a button to open the door, and any of various other buttons and doodads, along with a readout. For *many* people, this interface is too much. Some people use a microwave only to cook popcorn, for example. For such people, all that is necessary is a single button "make popcorn" (which could be further simplified with just a picture of a popcorn kernel). It would be nice if, in addition to the microwave oven, I could purchase a "swappable" set of UI components, so that I could customize the interface whenever I wanted to, to reflect my preferences.

PITFALLS: People might wind up losing the UI to their appliances, just like they lose their remote control. This could be mitigated by making the UI a LCD 'touchscreen' monitor built-in to the appliance, but then that would make them more expensive.

drefty, Nov 13 2006


       My microwave has a "Popcorn" button. But yeah, there too many other buttons on it.
DrCurry, Nov 13 2006

       This seems like a good idea, but is actually a horrible one. Customizable UIs in software already make tech support into a nightmare. More software-like UIs are the last thing we need for clueless users.   

       Instead, focus should be on "simpler" UIs. Best Microwave interface I've seen: a power dial, and a time dial. Turning the dial starts the oven, opening the door stops it (you could add a "popcorn" button to it, but that's it...)   

       On the other hand, it could be useful for hackers. I'm taking the fishbone away...
cowtamer, Nov 14 2006

       [-] baked, and baked poorly at that (I have one that has numerous fixed-setting buttons, none of which actually work for the purpose they're supposed to)
FlyingToaster, Feb 27 2009

       So user intuitive input rather than complex non intuitive interfaces. A damn hard nut to crack when your users demand you automate the mundane. Popping popcorn, parallel parking, all at "the touch of a button", but with a terrible price (tag). Please, think: "could i actually become competent at this?", and consider what controls would compliment competence. A simple rotary timer should suffice.
WcW, Feb 28 2009

       I could use a few user-adjustable presets (heat beverage, heat plate, defrost thing), but apart from that, power and timer dials's are the only necessary things (maybe an offset timer though I'd never use it).
FlyingToaster, Feb 28 2009

       A soft button interface with either an initial startup checklist or an on-line configuration mode would be great for this. Go online once, run through a question by question set-up app (Is your main use of the microwave to: a)Boil Water b)make popcorn c) defrost food d) cook food e)two or more of the above). Once complete it gives you a little configuration file that you transfer to the microwave via a small included USB key, and the microwave is then configured with the buttons most useful to you.
MechE, Nov 03 2009


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