This is How a Microwave Should Work.

Inspired by ‘The Design of Everday Things’

Ben South Lee
Aug 27, 2013 · 3 min read

Microwaves are great.

Microwaves are basically magic. They can transform frozen blocks into delicious food! Meals that would normally take hours to cook can be nuked to ready temperatures in just minutes.

So, why can’t the user experience be magical as well? I consider myself a reasonably intelligent individual — but, every time I interact with a new microwave, I take an unreasonable amount of time figuring it out.

That’s just unacceptable. A microwave, magic aside, is a simple device. It’s a box that shoots waves at a frequency (roughly 2.45 gigahertz) that gets absorbed by water, fats, and sugar to create heat. All you really need to use a microwave is a timer and power level adjustment. That’s it.

So, what’s the best way to manipulate those features?

Here’s My Solution:

A touch screen coupled with a depressible dial. That’s all you need to operate a microwave.

Turning On/Setting the Timer

Just turn the dial to your desired time and press! The Microwave will count down and start cooking (mmmm). Dots around the dial indicate time remaining. Haptic feedback at notches let users operate blindfolded (almost).

Setting the Power Level

Tapping the power level at the bottom will allow you to adjust it with the dial. You can go back to the timer by selecting the same spot.

Readiness Indicator

When an item is cooking, the background color will change depending on the time left (Blue → Red Hot). When the item is done, the Dial will pop out and a lovely tune will chime. Ta-da!

The End

That’s it — a good microwave just needs a simple and intuitive interface to be great. Hopefully, microwave manufacturers move on from a plethora of buttons and programming modes and opt for a better user experience. Thanks for reading!

    Ben South Lee

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