Analog Moment

by James Cox-Morton (@th3james)

Washing machines: No internet required

A text book case study on why you have to start with user needs, not technology.

Whirlpool have built a smart washing machine that no-one wants

There is a tendency for teams to over-estimate how important their product is to customers. It’s only natural when you spend 40 hours a week thinking about washing machines; you get a skewed perspective of how much they matter to normal people. This is the only explanation why you would think anyone wants a $1,700 washing machine you can control with your iPhone.

There’s another side effect of this gap between perceived and real world importance: It allows you to justify huge jumps in complexity. This is a common pitfall of Internet of Things appliances, captured nowhere more perfectly than this tweet

Software is complicated. This washing machine requires you to use an app to get the most out of it. Apps have bugs. Apps require upgrading to work with new hardware and operating systems. Do you trust Whirlpool (an appliance company) to stay on top of this?

Not to mentioned, designing intuitive interfaces is extremely hard. Non-software companies don’t have a great track record. Ask anyone who has used the electronic dashboard on a modern car - even high end brands have horrible user interfaces.

Instead of making life better, often IoT devices seem to make it much more complicated.

Meanwhile, you know what interface I really what from my washing machine? It has one button:


No internet required...