I just read the article by Peter M. Blackford in the November 2011 issue of Design News in the section Made By Monkeys. Of all of the deficiencies, or design snafus, that Peter picked up on, he said nothing about the incorporation of a touch panel itself. My God, it’s a refrigerator. It keeps milk cold and ice cream frozen.
It doesn’t need computer control. It needs a thermostat. Your not trying to control a 100,000 BTU furnace, it probably has a 1/8 to ¼ HP compressor. Don’t label me a dinosaur or anti progress activist but come on, all the manufacturer has done is raise the price by several hundred dollars in the name of progress and energy savings. I have a computer and flat screen TV’s but I will never have a $1500 washer or dryer or a refrigerator with computer type control.
When young people see a refrigerator with a touch panel their eyes glaze over and they sign on the dotted line, even though they don’t realize that they probably can’t afford it and they aren’t saving any energy at all.
This machine sounds like it's inhabited by a poltergeist!
But seriously--TJ, a 10-year warranty on a washer? Who makes it, Mercedes-Benz? I'm afraid to think of what it costs. Yet, that length sounds like the old warranties we used to get on household appliances.
Now we're delving into the philosophical realm. When are technology upgrades impactful for the masses, and when are they purely an exercise in effort? Sure, the internet has produced some great byproducts, The WIKIPEDIA group being the most prominent (in my opinion). BUT there are also all those unintended consequences. During yesterday's MICHAEL MEDVED program, he discussed a recent NEWSWEEK article concerning the almost exponential rise in "sex crimes", and the reasons for it. One very credible factor IS the internet! Pornography is rampant and easily available to anyone w/ a PC. Here's two very upsetting statistics that he produced. EVERY day in the U.S. (alone), there are at least 40 million people "tuned in" to a pornographic website, and there are currently operating in the U.S. approx. 14.2 MILLION pornographic-specific websites. To me, that's almost criminal!
There are literally too many vivid examples of products that have flourished. but for what ultimate reason? Were they really needed, OR were they brought onto the buying public by extremely effective marketing depts?
Personally, I have been a technologist for the better part of fifty years, but every product that I designed or was a team member in the design was a useful product, and not something frivolous. When I see new designs in any category, I analyze that product to determine the usefulness of it for society as a whole.
For example, FORD is touting one of their new models that's equipped w/ self parking. While I'm sure it was a major engineering feat to accomplish it, is it really necessary?, OR, is it a marketing gimmick? What ever happened to the HONDA ACCORD years ago that had 4-wheel steering? That was a mechanical solution to ease a vehicle into a tight space? It last only a few short years. In the very early 1950s, an engineer modified a CADILLAC with a purely mechanical drivetrain to convert the spare tire into a cross-axled fifth wheel. When the parking space was too tight to maneuver out of, the driver could lower the "spare" which was powered. The vehicle would then rotate about the axis of the two front wheels. The spare wheel would reset, and the vehicle could be backed out.
We could discuss this from now until after Doomsday. That's why I continue to adhere to the philosophical argument for most of these blogs.
Good point, Old Curmudgeon. There are a lot of factors contributing to the throw-away era. For one, ongoing technology advances make older appliances obsolete. TVs are a good example. No matter how well the old tube TV works, people want the flat screen, they want the HD versions, the 3D TVs. Soon they will want the Google or Apple TV. The old TVs can't be converted. And no matter how well they continue to perform, consumers will go for the newer experience.
Plus, the cost of repair now exceeds the cost of replacement.
Each one who has written w/ deep analysis of the current situation w/ appliance life expectancy has contributed in a valid way to this argument. I believe the most poignant point is the one in which the ultimate "blame" can be put on the concept of replacement. IF you are old enough to remember back several decades you will recall that MOTOROLA made a majot advertising effort to tout their TV models with the "Works in a Drawer". The advertisements were specifically designed to allay the fears of users that their TV products were so designed that when a component failed (early days of solid state electronics), it was a simple task to disconnect a "board" and replace it, thus minimizing in-home service technician repair time and/or trips to the shop w/ the malfunctioning unit. I think a case can be made by historians that this was the beginning of the "Throw-away" Era for appliance, apparatus design in the U.S., and ultimately, the rest of the consuming world.
I don't think simplicity is the only solution to the problem. The simpler models are often less "enabled" (a lower powered motor, for instance). One may want more power (Tim Allen, where are you?), and thus have to go with one with additional bells and whistles as a result.
The lower powered motor may also be "cheaply" built, so the simpler model selected may simply fail in a different manner.
I like the new direct drive washer we purchased two years ago. It has a 10 year warranty; I like the attitude such a warranty supports. I will not have to deal with clutches, gearboxes or belts as I have in the past.
We've discussed the difference life expectancy of mechanical assemblies vs. electronics before. One might also note that equipment that lasts 20 years or more mean many fewer units being sold, lower profits for the manufacturer (this can be seen in some recent chewing gum commercials).
There are arguments that planned obsolesence does or does not exist, but one cannot refute that the shorter life cycles increase the number of units sold.
We looked at a number of sources to determine this year's greenest cars, from KBB to automotive trade magazines to environmental organizations. These 14 cars emerged as being great at either stretching fuel or reducing carbon footprint.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is