© 2018 by Zhangyan Ling

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ge kitchen hub

An all-in-one smart display and ventilator above the stove,

featuring a control center, a cooking assistant, and an entertainment system.

BACKGROUND

Challenge

Smart home technology has been developing for years, however, the application was limited. Consumers seem to be not willing to pay for the smart home technology as the appliances with new tech features are costing way more than they expect.

 

Kitchen has always been the heart of a home. Are there any opportunities lying in that area? With smart home technologies, how can we enjoy a better life and cooking experience?

Solution

“The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the range is the heart of the kitchen.” GE Appliances has been working on smart cooking appliances for years, and the general concept was to create an all-in-one smart kitchen hub over the range, which is likely to be a control center of their home and an entertainment system.

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Cooking ​Assistant

Smart Home Control​​

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Entertainment​​

Social​

Design Process

GE Appliances has had this concept for a while, however, how the system on the Kitchen Hub would be was still a missing puzzle. Product designers at GE Appliances designed the physical model, and my responsibility was to design the system and prototype the UI for this kitchen hub.

 

There were 2 phases: concept phase and production phase. Concept phase (Oct 2017-Jan 2018) was aimed to present the new GE Kitchen Hub concept and showcase on CES 2018, and the production phase (Feb 2018-Present) is aimed to bring this concept into the real world. I took charge in UX and UI design in the concept phase and contributed to UI design and UI guidelines in the production phase.

Duration

Role

Contribution

Software

Recognition

Oct 2017 - Jan 2018

UX Designer at GE Appliances

Contributed to Ideation of system;

Fully responsible for wireframes, UI, and prototyping for CES 2018.

Top Tech of CES 2018 (Home Appliances)

 
 
Research

Market Research: Major Players

 

Who are the major players? What are they doing?

Most of the large home appliance companies are trying to apply smart home technologies to the new kitchen appliances. Samsung and LG have their smart fridges and connected wall ovens launched; Whirlpool also has its connected wall ovens on the market.

The most compatible products would be the Samsung Family Hub Fridge. It is one of the most innovated smart major appliances on the current market.

User Research: Persona

 

Who are our target consumers? What are they looking for?

 

GEA categorize consumers into 5 types based on their preference on home appliances.

The target users of GE Kitchen Hub would be like:

Amanda

 

Value design and aesthetics

Taking care of family with frequent use of her beautiful appliances

Willing to pay for modern technology and feature

User Research: Activities in and around the kitchen

What activities can happen in the kitchen and around the hub?

In-Kitchen Activities.png

User Research: Customer Journey Maps

 

What users' pain points and their needs when they are at home and in the kitchen? Especially when they are cooking?

Journey Map
Journey Map
Ideation

Mind Map

 

What features can the GE Kitchen Hub have?

We utilized affinity diagraming and Lego walkthrough to brainstorm the potential features.

The features were filtered and categorized in the mind map.

Mindmap

Testing: Card Sorting

 

I used card sorting to test:

  • Which features are more desired or needed by users?

  • Whether the information architecture reasonable or not? 

Card sorting

Low-fi Prototyping

 
 
Conclusion
  • Core feature of the kitchen hub should be about cooking and recipes;

  • Entertainment is desired when users are doing chores around the kitchen;

  • It will be better to have life assistive features, like taking notes and checking weather;

  • It could be a control center to control home appliances.

Development

Concept: 4-in-1 Kitchen Hub

 

After several iterations of ideation and testing, we finally designed 4 primary parts for the system:

Cooking, Smart Home, Entertainment, and Social

Cooking

​​

  • Show step-by-step video recipes

  • Set up family profiles to remember everyone's appetite

  • Connected to cooking appliances for precision cooking

  • Record cooking process and share online

  • Create customized recipes

Smart Home

​​

  • Control all connected home appliances

  • Control environment light and temperature

  • Security camera

Entertainment

​​

  • Enjoy movies and TV shows when doing boring chore

  • Sync favorite music to Kitchen Hub​

Social

​​​​

  • Video call with friends to share special recipes

  • Quickly view social media

Information Architecture

System IA.png

Ergonomics: Page Layout

 

GE Kitchen Hub is located at a unique place, where is over the range. It was a big challenge to design the digital user interfaces at such a high position. Users are likely to get fatigue if interacting with the screen for too long, and for some users, they are even hardly to reach the top of the screen. Therefore, we did an ergonomics analysis and decided the basic UI layout based on the result.

 

For US 10% female, they can reach half of the screen with no difficulty, however it will cause fatigue when they reach the higher place or last for more than 7 mins to interact with the screen. So for the basic UI layout, important information and interactive elements should be placed in the lower part of the screen, and the other half of the screen will be utilized to put some secondary or view-only information.

Secondary information

Primary information

page layer info.png

Wireframes

Wireframes.png
 

UI Iterations

 

For the final interactive prototype showing on CES 2018, UI visual style also needed to be defined. After several iterations of UI exploration, I finally designed the dark version which matched the UI styles of other GE appliances.

Interactive Prototype

 

I used Hype3 to build the interactive prototype for the exhibition. I chose this tool because it is good for building up prototypes showing a complicated system on large touch screens.

 
Recognition

GE Kitchen Hub @CES 2018

Top Tech of CES 2018 in Home Appliances

 
Next Steps

The concept was exhibited on CES 2018 in Feb. After that, the project got into the next phase that we want to bring the concept to the real world, The expected price was revealed at about $600. My responsibility in the next phase was designing the UI style, the cooking feature, and UI guidelines.

Future Developments

 

  • Split view for multi-tasking

  • Voice control

  • UI style matches home style