CE GUI Designer Shows Interface for Smart Refrigerator
Guifx, which began life as a home systems integrator, shows fridge/freezer interface at Embedded World; GE calls to learn more.
It all started when GUI designer Guifx was asked to create an interface for a refrigerator. The request came from an embedded hardware partner, Amulet Technologies, that wanted to demonstrate the app for Embedded World 2010 in Germany.
Guifx head honcho Morgan Strauss says in his blog, “In addition to normal dispensing operations, the dynamic nature of touchscreens provided the opportunity to get creative and add features such as automatically displaying the volume of water as it’s being dispensed.”
Guifx is a spin-off of Audio Advisors (now Ask the Advisors), a leading home systems integrator in West Palm Beach, Fla. Years ago, Audio Advisors was spending countless hours creating customized interfaces for its clients and figured … why not get the most out of those investments?
So the company spun off a GUI division that is now a completely separate business, providing GUIs to Audio Advisors and numerous other integrators, manufacturers and OEMs.
As for the refrigerator application, Guifx started the way it always does: with a project flowchart (shown below). The default display in this case would be the dispenser. Would you like water, crushed ice or cubed ice? (Automatically, the screen reveals in real-time the amount of liquid dispensed.)
A menu reveals less-used apps including timer, whiteboard, power usage and settings. The timer is more intuitive than the ones you find on a microwave and the whiteboard makes perfectly good sense for a fridge-based display. Just use your finger to write a message.
The Settings tab brings up the temperature of the freezer and refrigerator, the brightness of the display, information about the filter (time to change it!) and even an option to change the background of the screen.
Strauss tells CE Pro, “We got a call from GE a couple days after we posted about it in our blog —showing interest in having us work on something similar for them.”
Smart refrigerator/freezers with built-in displays have been demonstrated – and sometimes launched – by most of the major appliance manufacturers but none of them has really succeeded in commercializing the products.
Maybe GE will finally do it.
In addition to refrigerator apps, Guifx has designed interfaces for in-car dashboards and, of course, home control touchscreens and remote controls.
Touchscreen Tip from the Pro
Put your hands up to truly test your interface design. The earlier in the design process the better. Pay special attention if your hand would obscure the results of touching a button — menus, status bar changes, page redraws, etc. Major action buttons are best placed at the bottom of the screen, with their results positioned directly above the point of action.
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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