User interface stories from a Tokyo hotel (#3 in a series)

Tonight’s homework was figuring out the combined washing-machine-and-tumble-dryer here in the hotel room.

Each of the 4 big dials on the left, and the 5 smaller buttons in the middle, are actually interconnected multi-state buttons. By repeatedly pressing one of those buttons, you light up different parts of text on the big buttons, or text above the smaller buttons – and also restrict what choices all the other buttons can make. To add to the fun, there are buttons that seem to duplicate functionality. This all felt needlessly confusing.
On the cool side, you can program this to start washing ‘n’ hours later, it has a button to enable “low noise washing for night operation” and all the buttons have braille on them.

For all the complexity and high tech stuff around here, it feels low-tech to have to guess how long a specific mix of clothes will take to dry, and then set that time on dial#4. By contrast, my dryer at home has a built-in moisture sensor, and will automatically stop when the clothes are dry. Of course, it has a few buttons to allow you customize cycles if you want, but the defaults are good enough that I usually just throw clothes in the washer or dryer, and press the one “go” button.

After all my clothes came out clean and dry, I treated myself to some coffee with milk and biscuits:


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