“Easy of use” and “simplify people life” are key concept in the most advanced household appliances and represent an important lever in the purchase choices of consumers who have little time available for the domestic tasks. They expect high performance from more and more technological appliances able to drive consumer easily
by Elena Corti
The simplicity of use is a key factor for a household appliance. It affects, in fact, significantly the purchasing decision because it allows consumers to save time and obtain great results without mistaking and without much effort. Appliance manufacturers have always focused more on this issue, underling the importance of communicating to the end user that a higher content of technology in the devices is not synonymous with more complexity in the use, because technology is designed to be easily used. Through intuitive controls, increasingly innovative displays and automatic functions, consumer is guided step by step so that in home activities it is easy to use products that have a high number of features and options meeting the different needs of users of all ages and with a different level of familiarity with the technology. The technical innovations have been designed especially to meet the needs of users who perceive lack of time as one of the most critical and sensitive factors of their own life: this is why the binomial ‘ease of use’ and ‘increase of performance’ is strategic because it lets user make quickly, easily and effectively a series of activities that, if carried out more rapidly, leave more time to leisure. The user-friendly appliances are designed to make the user’s life easier. A survey conducted by AddedValue in collaboration with Centromarca showed that one of the main expectations of consumers in respect of household appliances is that they propose solutions that make life easier. In addition to quality standards (59%), the efficient customer service (49%) and the importance of having advanced technologies (41%), the product ability to make the daily life easier is among the more felt requirements by consumers (32%). From major to small appliances, up to home comfort, the double aspect of simplicity of use and making easier operations – generally considered tiresome and boring – is increasingly evident in the latest generation of devices thanks to advanced technologies that allow the machine to do several tasks automatically, offering a high degree of customization and maximizing results with minimum effort by the end user.
Clear and intuitive controls
Often what is perceived by consumers as “easy” is the result of advanced technologies that make products able to independently manage some stages of the process, leaving the final user only the choice of which option to activate. The perception of ease of use is provided by an increasingly high level of technology in which electronics plays an important role, enabling new features and making simple what it is not so easy. The user-friendly home appliances are characterized by clear and intuitive interfaces that guide the user allowing him to quickly achieve the desired performance: the path “select, control, manage” is increasingly easy and fast thanks to very simple to use controls. Producers focus on touch control and display of latest generation, which are constantly refined to increase the ease of use of household appliances, whether they are major or small ones. Among the various segments, Washing, Cooking, Cooling and Small Appliances propose some of the main innovations.
Washing machines feature increasingly large display, with models that mount even 7” color touch screens. Display becomes the tool through which consumer may be assisted in choosing the most suitable washing program, simply by selecting some parameters such as the kind of fabric, its color, and the type of desired spin.
Regarding Cooking, among the latest news there is the oven with a completely full touch door which becomes a real control panel to manage and monitor the state of cooking of food in each step, and even see pre-loaded video-recipes shown on the oven door. Furthermore, touch controls on the hob allow to manage with great ease and precision the levels of cooking, by simply moving a finger.
Refrigerator, however, can become a hub for the IoT, with a Full HD touch screen of over 20 inches.
In cooking machines, finally, the very intuitive control panel allows to easily create elaborate meals, even if the user is not a cooking expert because the machine provides all the necessary information.
In addition to the user-friendly controls, ease of use is often guaranteed also by the way devices are designed, conceived to be comfortable to use and ergonomic: just think of the washing machine doors, more and more large and positioned at the top to facilitate the loading and downloading of laundry; of the latest generation of dishwashers characterized by an extremely versatile management of space to stow crystals more easily, cooking utensils and large dishes; and of vacuum cleaners and irons that are becoming more and more manageable.
Innovative solutions to simplify consumers lives
It is widely believed in the market that an important message to communicate to the consumer is that the latest generation of appliances actually make life easier. Success factor of the most advanced products is that technology is not only easily manageable by the user but also really useful. The end user can easily see the tangible effects of this simplification, as the time savings and the increased accuracy and efficiency with which domestic operations are carried out compared to the past. In addition, the latest generation of appliances accurately metered water, energy, temperature and time, guiding consumers in achieving the best performances. Furthermore, multifunction devices and preset programs especially meet the needs of users who have little time to dedicate to extra-work activities and are therefore interested in products that enable them to make quickly without giving up the results.
The most evolved appliances support the user, avoiding him to make errors. In cooking area, for example, where there are many innovations, products such as hobs, ovens and small appliances for the kitchen allow to make perfect preparations and cooking with a few simple commands, targeted functions and accessories designed ad hoc and inspired by the professional world. Among the latest innovations we can mention the ovens equipped with probe to cook meat at the proper temperature and appliances designed for cooking on several levels, avoiding odors to mix. In addition, with the most advanced coffee machines it is almost impossible to fail the preparation of the drink: not only the automatic functions allow to get results comparable to those of the coffee shop but also allow a high level of customization to meet the different tastes of consumers.
With the most advanced products of the Cooling sector, however, user life is made easier in preserving foods for a longer time thanks to optimized air circulation systems and areas with different temperatures for the most delicate foods such as vegetables, meat and cheeses.
In the Washing segment, the numerous programs provided by washing machines and dryers allow the user to quickly find the best treatment for their clothes, without the risk of damaging them. Among the latest innovations there are also models that allow to introduce clothing in the machine when the washing cycle has already started, so it is not necessary to wait for the next wash.
In the ironing sector the main innovations are focused on the automatization parameters such as temperature and steam intensity so that consumer does not risk to mistake, damaging the fabrics. Several new features have also been launched in recent years also in the Personal Care, in products such as hairdryers or epilators. Innovations such as intelligent control of the temperature and the digital engine allow hairdryer not spoil the user’s hair with a too hot flow of air and to make the device more efficient and lighter than conventional models. In epilators, indeed, the introduction of pulsed light technology has allowed the end user to make the epilation painlessly.
Finally, vacuum cleaners sector has proposed to the market products designed to make life easier for the consumer: from multi-cyclons systems to improve the effectiveness of the products, to the cordless models that make them easier to handle, to the robots that clean autonomously thanks to technologies such as the 360 ° visual systems that maps the space and infrared sensors that allow to detect obstacles.
Ease of use in the smart home era
If communicating the concept “easy to use and useful to simplify life” is important for high-tech appliances, it is much more important for connected devices, because consumer is still discovering the real benefits of smart home. Manufacturers and retailers play a key role in raising awareness of the benefits of the connected home in terms of quality of life and relief of the housework. Now there are many products that can be managed remotely with smartphones or tablets (from major to small appliances to air-conditioning): the house communicates with the user and also the appliances dialogue with one another, such as the hood with the hob or the washing machine with the dryer. According to a recent survey realized by Context, simplification of life is one of the main expectations of Italian consumers about the connected home: 33.4% of the interviewed panel believes that to come back home and find a comfortable environment or a dinner cooked in the oven is a strong appeal benefits for investing in products for the smart home.