GE Appliances
Modular Refrigerator

Designing an IOT based connected kitchen appliance for shared spaces

Overview

About the project

Overview: This rapid design project was based on a prompt given by GE Appliances to design an IoT based ecosystem & create a business strategy around “smart home” or “connected home” products / services. Three person teams were created with assigned roles and responsibilities simulating today’s work environment. We conducted research, prototyped ideas and finally pitched our solution to the client.

Timeline: 5 weeks

My Role: I was the Product Manager for this project and my responsibilities included understanding overall landscape, ideating solutions, prototyping UI, business assessment and concept validation.

The Challenge

Develop a connected product and services-based business for GE Appliances, incorporating meal orchestration, health and delivery services.

The Solution

A customizable refrigerator with individual compartment and a connected mobile app environment for people living in shared spaces and hostels.

User Research

Designing for Millennials

Whether in a shared space with family, friends or housemates, most kitchen appliances are used by multiple individuals. We decided to design a solution for students & young professionals living in shared houses, apartments & hostels. The stakeholders will be universities, housing societies and shared hostels/hotels.

Participants

We chose total six students and working professionals and conducted semi-structured interviews with them. We tried to discover their pain points, needs and requirements.

Interview Script

How do you manage your food?
What appliances do you use?
How do you track your health?
What are the major problems faced?
How do you shop groceries?

Market Research

We read reports from various sources such as Mintel, IBIS World, etc to understand the market landscape, trends and identify gaps between the services available & user needs.

Research insights

Major Findings

  1. Large appliances are durable goods with 10+ year life-spans, but people’s needs change much more quickly than their appliances do.
  2. Current kitchen layouts/designs are based on acceptance of antiquated technological constraints which have created inefficiencies in power consumption and space utilization.
  3. The number of 25 to 34-year-old living with housemates increased by a whopping 39 percent from 2005 to 2015, from 5.7 to 7.4 percent.
  4. Revenue growth for the Meal kit industry is expected to increase during the five years to 2022.
Problem Space

Issues found from research

1. Different dietary needs

2. Expired or forgotten food

3. Lack of personalization

4. Lack of storage space

5. High upgradation cost

6. High energy consumption

Design Goals

Value Propositions

Persona

Understanding the user

Feature Selection

Bridging different services

The Solution

Modular Fridge + Connected App

Modular Fridge

  • Fridge frame + individual compartments
  • Available in different storage patterns
  • Compartments can be used with any GE frame
  • Portable & customizable according to needs
  • Power saving mode for individual compartment

Connected GE App

  • Integrated with the Modular Fridge
  • Control temperature, set modes etc
  • Get info about food available & expiration
  • Get recipes based on food in your fridge
  • Order meal kits and cook fresh food at home
Modular Fridge

Concept Sketching

Modular Fridge

3D Design & Modelling

GE Mobile App

High Fidelity Design

1. Connected Appliances: View all the GE appliances and get details about your refrigerator like storage, temperature, modes etc.

Sign In /Sign Up

Home page with appliances

Fridge status & settings

2. Manage Inventory: See all the food items in your fridge with details like expiration & quality status and add new food items if required.

Food in the fridge

Expiry date of food

Adding food item

3. Personalized Recipes: View recipes based on the items currently present in your refrigerator

Displaying analytics

Recipes by food in fridge

Recipe detail page

4. Order Meal kits: Order meal kits to cook fresh food at home and get the ingredients for you need

Categories of food

Order meal kits

Meal kit detail page

Journey Mapping

User's Journey & Use Case

Client's Journey

Partnerships

Marketing Strategy

Business Strategy

Business Model Canvas

Product Pitch

View Full Presentation

Conclusion

Reflection & learning

As designers we tend to focus a lot on creating beautiful visuals, how perfect every pixel is going to look and often end up missing the bigger picture. This project helped me to understand the importance of considering business perspective in general and helping me to get closer to both client and final user of the product. The creation of new products should be people and problem focused, not ‘features’ focused. It is essential for designers to learn how pitch ideas and justify design decisions from a standpoint of how it’s going to make the company money, grow an audience, or make their experience better.

Additional discussion

Points which are not covered in this case study but could be worth discussing in person:

  • Industry landscape research
  • Ideating different solutions
  • Product strategy & timeline
  • Wireframing the solution

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