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Redesigning the Microwave Interface


In a few screens or less, redesign the interface of a microwave. We are interested in your
creativity
and
problem solving
, not your process. Include callouts of how it works, explanation of any tough
tradeoffs
you made, and a
list of things
you’d explore more with additional time.

How do microwaves look like?
0
Title
Photos
Comments
1
Online Retails
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Best selling microwaves on Amazon, Target
2
My Own
IMG_5712.JPG
At school’s common room kitchen
3
Best Microwaves of 2021
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From the article
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Microwave categories
0
Category
Appearance
Pros
Cons
1
Traditional microwaves (by 2021)
image.png
Widely used (familiarity, less learning curve)
Express buttons
So many buttons
Never bothered to read the long instructions
2
Innovative microwaves (by 2021)
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Touch screen
Prettier appearance
Expensive
Unique interface interactions
3
Retro/portable microwaves
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Simple interactions
Few buttons, little cognitive load
Less functions
4
Futuristic microwaves
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Super unique characteristics
Fun interactions
High cost
Huge learning curve
Big tradeoffs
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Who am I designing for?

Kids — Still learning about using microwaves.
General adults — Use microwaves regularly, but only for heating up lunchboxes.
House chefs — Use microwaves on a daily basis, more functions mean easier work.
Elders — Use microwaves, but might be having some troubles with them.

Main Takeaways & Missions

Easy to use interface and simple interactions
Accessible design — readable, clickable, understandable
Instructions & help if needed
Basic Interface Layout
0
Screen Shot 2021-04-04 at 14.20.11.png
Vertical Layout
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Horizontal View
The microwave interface usually looks like a “bar” on the side or bottom of the microwave. From my understanding, this is due to technology restrictions that the interface should be protected from microwavable content.
As for my redesign, I would prefer to go with the
vertical layout
since it’s more common for all (less learning curve for people) and allows more space for interaction. Here’re some
tradeoffs
:
✔️ Common for all, less learning curve for people
✔️ Allows more space for interaction
✔️ Less cost, few technology restrictions
❌ Less space for heating food
❌ (Potentially) bigger in size

A closer look at the Interfaces

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This is a typical microwave from LG — it has 31 buttons on that small interface area!
✔️ Number pad allows more functionality & flexibility
❌ Tiny words, flat buttons, 0 tactile feedback ... Please make it better.

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Wow! So neat! This Samsung microwave only has 2 knobs to adjust time and heat level. The designer sacrificed many functional buttons to allow the simplest interaction — heating food.
✔️ Knobs — easy interaction
❌ Less functionality, 0 instruction
❌ Wired order — the knob on top should be the first interaction, which should be setting up temperature instead of time

My Design

Missions & Goals
microwave.png
Functions
0
Name
Design
Details
1
Bar Code Scanner
Screen Shot 2021-04-04 at 17.00.49.png
✔️ Scan the bar code from food packaging to enter food data (shortcut)
✔️ Quick & automated input (less cognitive load)
✔️ Easy to use, no need for instructions.
✔️ Designed for children, workers, and elders. Simple user flow.
❌. Additional cost for hardware & database
2
Knobs
Screen Shot 2021-04-04 at 17.07.28.png
✔️ Knobs with information displayed on the front — based on users’ adjustments. ✔️ Quick & easy input (less cognitive load) ✔️ Fun interaction ✔️ Accessible for all ✔️ Aligned the knobs separately to avoid mis-clicks ❌. Additional cost for hardware & interface
3
Top-to-bottom order
Slice 1.png
✔️ People generally take in information in the order or top → bottom, left → right ✔️ Information input order matches with people’s preference, easy interaction ❌. Slightly different from people’s general interaction with microwaves
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More about the Knobs

Screen Shot 2021-04-05 at 17.57.07.png
Inspiration from the smart knob-like thermostat

Moving Forward

Test & refine interface design
This was a fun exercise and I took a while to look into many microwave products. However, I didn’t spend enough time tweaking the visual details or testing the interface. If given more time, I’ll make more screens & prototypes to test the idea out with people & gather more feedback
Costs & stakeholders
For my design, I focused more on the user experience so did not pay a lot of attention at the cost. However, as a technology product that every common household owns, the cost is fairly important and need to be taken into consideration.
Crazier ideas?
As for this redesign, I stayed in the scope of a traditional microwave to design for all. However, I’m curious to learn & see if I can implement more innovative thoughts on designing the microwave interface.
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