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Putting the User at the Center-Berg’s Washing Machine

February 26, 2014

What’s interesting and promising about the “internet of things”, is how it’s going to make our current experiences better.

While many have complained and ridculed the idea of connecting a refrigerator to the internet by suggesting that it’s a complete waste of time, Nest has shown us a different reality. With Nest, we’ve seen how a humble thermostat, can, with the addition of beautiful product and software design, be turned into something quite remarkable. Something that’s a pleasure to interact with and importantly makes the experience of heating and cooling a home, better and cheaper. People love their Nests!

Nest has now become the go-to ┬áNike+ example, (the always quoted example of a digital service) of the “internet of things” movement, so it’s good to have something else to get us thinking.

Berg in London has spent some time playing around with the notion of a connected washing machine.

They’ve taken the machine and the current interface to pieces and they’ve re-imagined a new machine that’s connected to the web.

Cloudwash: the connected washing machine from BERG on Vimeo.

It’s clear a great deal of thought has gone into this and how the experience can put the user at the center and deliver to their real needs. They’ve spent time to understand how people wash clothes and how the process fits into their lives, in order to make a machine that’s smarter and more understanding. The thinking is all about the smartphone and how that now acts as an interface between ourselves and the machine. It allows the machine interface to be simplified, but it also uses things like messaging to allow the machine to tell users when it’s almost finished and even allow them to replenish their detergent supply directly from their phones.

We are now in the very early days of a world where many of our experiences with the machines are about to get radically transformed.

However, getting this right and making sure the transformation is for the better, demands discipline and insight, it’s only through deep understanding of the end user that we will get beyond flashy interfaces that promise much, but deliver very little in the way of an improved user experience.

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