As we move towards the ‘Internet of Things’, London-Based industrial design firm Berg creates a prototype washing machine that can be programmed and controlled via an app on your smartphone.
Since the launch of its web-connected Little Printer (featured in Issue 40 of Curve), Berg has continued to explore how products and devices can be connected via the cloud. Its latest exploration is a connected washing machine that has the potential to give real benefits to users and offer differentiation for white-good manufacturers.
“Connectivity holds out promise for something really new, washing machines can become something actually different. Cloudwash is an expression of our thoughts on how to make this stuff matter and some steps to something better,” says Berg founder Jack Schulze.
The first thing Schulze and his team did was take a Zanussi washing machine apart and then install various hardware components and electronics inside so that the machine can connect to the web via Berg’s cloud platform. Once this was done they started to design user interfaces for both the outside of the washing machine and the connected smartphone app.
For the washing machine they decided that, instead of making it overly complicated, it would feature a clean and minimal layout with customisable options for wash types on an e-ink display. “In the coming wave of connected products, it seems likely that the few useful humble features will prove more effective in actual use than glistening touch screens and embedded speakers,” comments Schulze.
As well as being able to program and control the machine via a smartphone app, the app will also send alerts when the wash cycle is finished. However, if the user wants to delay the rinse cycle because they are going to be late home from work, for instance, they can easily do this via the app.
In addition, when the machine is running low on detergent or conditioner, it could alert the user or even make a purchase direct from Amazon, or another retailer.
“We made Cloudwash because we want to start a conversation about the design of connected products and what networking something can mean. We were able to prototype and think through making because we’ve got a technology platform that makes it easy to do so. We want to know what you think,” asks Schulze.