Electrolux: designing appliances for robots in the home of future

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For the sixth year running, Electrolux Group has collaborated with students from the Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden to develop product ideas for the home of the future. This year’s brief was to envision appliances for a home assistant robot as the primary user, and humans with diverse needs as the owners. The students explored what new solutions and product designs might be suitable if cleaning, cooking, dishwashing and washing were done primarily by the robot and secondarily by humans. They designed for a diverse set of consumers: the visually impaired, an elderly couple with limited mobility, and an older person living alone.

THE IDEAS OF THE STUDENTS
Tray Flex Assist: it is a dishwashing solution for a robot assisting a blind consumer. The robot carries dishes, glassware and cutlery to and from the table in trays with a handle at the top. The trays – in high-contrast colors for those with partial sight – can be placed directly into the drawer-style dishwasher. The dishwasher, which is voice-operated, features an opening for the robot to place its hand to be washed by a silicone brush.

Tray Flex Assist

Senti: the Senti design envisioned the robot vacuuming difficult-to-reach areas for the elderly, who would clean together with the robot in their home as a way of staying active. The robot lifts the vacuum and attachments from a docking station, and cleans according to instructions via the app. The robot returns the vacuum to its docking station, emptying the dust and cleaning the attachments.

Senti

Atmos: it aims to reduce the dangers and ease the process of cooking using a robot assisting a blind consumer. The team designed a cooktop with a set of holes in the top to release steam or heat but only when one of the custom pots is placed above it. Steaming and airfrying are possible on the cooktop. The rectangular pots feature four high-contrast colors as well as tactile markings. The robot also delivers them to the table and back again. The consumer can operate everything via voice commands.

Atmos

Autocare: this compact laundry solution aims to have a robot help an older person living alone. The team designed a laundry basket with compartments and wheels, which the robot pulls over to the washing machine, embedded in the kitchen furniture at (human) waist height. The drum pops out of the wall, and the robot places the clothing items in the top. The drum pops back in and displays the time remaining in large numbers glowing on its front. When the cycle finishes, the drum pops out, a drawer underneath opens, and the laundry drops out into the drawer. The robot can help take clothes to be hung to dry.

Autocare