Sharp Simple Dial Operation

✋ What is it?

This is a physical solution found on some commercial Sharp microwaves. Unlike other appliances, this microwave has a single dial / single interaction used for operation of time and heat.

🤲 How does this interaction or solution work?

The microwave heats food like any other microwave. However Sharp implemented a different kind of control panel for this appliance.

Most appliances rely on over-involved interactions that give the user the ability to choose between modes and set-up specific times.

However, this particular microwave has a single dial that controls both the timing and heat.
To achieve this, Sharp provides a reference table that can be used to determine the amount of time needed.

One clear insight that lies underneath this solution is that most microwave oven users never bother to use or learn other functionality different from the timed heat.

Sharp applied this knowledge by creating a single-serving guide and a dial that can be turned to match one of those references.

This solution also fallbacks gracefully to existing mental models since users just need to turn the dial and select a familiar heating time (No need to see the references).

When the user turns the dial, the oven starts operating right away. This assumed interaction is another nice addition to the design of this operation mechanism since it removes the need for a start button (therefore reducing the overall cognitive load of this device).

🙌 How does this interaction or solution work?

Simplicity, Reduced Cognitive load, and Improved Learnability.

Users who operate this microwave oven only need 10 seconds to learn how it works and probably just milliseconds of mental involvement to operate this appliance as part of a learned routine.


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