Week 1: Final Project Ideas

Make your home work for you

Since I’m a kid I like house automation. I thought that as a grown up I would have a fully automated apartment (or house). Sadly, it’s not yet the case.

Yes, every couple years we see an awesome video demo of a fully automated house. It’s all modern, neat and white. As impressive as some of these demonstrations are, there all have the same problem: they are not real houses. Most houses are bought used, not newly constructed. Most people can’t afford the extra cost of automating their new purchase.

My answer to this problem is minimally intrusive automation through smarter appliances.

What are the most common house chores that everybody has to do?

Other than getting a maid, what can you do to avoid those chores? Let’s add some information to our list:

Let’s talk about the two last points. Washing machines and dishwashers are perfect example of automated appliances. While in 1960 it was “invasive” to install a dishwasher, most modern construction now include a reserved spot for it. Same goes for the washing machine and the dryer.

Although I mentioned that they are automated appliances, they still require a lot of manual labor.


All the steps that have a * are manual operations. When you think about it, the human is doing a lot of work!

Now let’s analyze a dishwasher:

Again, most of the steps are done by the human operator.

Now, let’s clarify one thing: washing machines and dishwashers do allow you to save time. However, I think that they could and should do way more. For my Final Project I decided to focus on the dishwasher.

The Dishpenser

In the first section of this page I highlighted the lack of efficiency of actual dishwashers by making a list of all the manual operations that one need to perform in order to “get the dishwasher to do the job for oneself”. Let’s be more specific about the issues:

How can we build a better appliance? Here’s my initial list of features:

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Jean-Francois (Jeff) Duval - jfduval(@)media(.)mit(.)edu - 2013
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