Microwave Oven 2.0: Building Electronics to Last

How can we design electronics that people actually want to keep? This concept by Marshall Jamshidi reimagines the microwave oven.

Why do consumers so readily replace products in favor of putting the effort to maintain them? Yes, advances in technology sometimes make versions obsolete or less efficient in comparison, but deeper than that, the problem is often a lack of emotional attachment between them and their objects. The emotional highlight of the typical user-object relationship is that moment it’s pulled out of the box, shiny and new, in front of us for the first time. From there it goes downhill, until ultimately, it is discarded sooner than need be. The microwave oven epitomizes this lifecycle. Inspired by the design philosophy pulled from Jonathan Chapman and his book, Emotionally Durable Design, I created the Microwave Oven 2.0. The design won first place in the Design for (Your) Product Lifetime Student Challenge sponsored by Autodesk, Core77, and iFixit.

What leads microwaves to first fall out of favor with their owners? Imagine yourself putting your face in any given microwave and inhaling, and it becomes obvious. Their interiors become gross with use. Firstly, cleaning microwaves is an arduous task. But even when attended to, after time, no amount of cleaning can overcome the odors and discoloration that seep into the paints and plastic that line current microwave interiors. My solution? Line the interior with easy-to-remove ceramic panels. Simply slide them out and toss them into the dishwasher from time to time and microwave 2.0 will continue to be fresh and odor free. But is this enough?

Not really. To truly make our products desirable in the long haul, they need to grow with us, delivering new experiences to consume. Updates can assist in this, but how do you upgrade a microwave? I chose the interface. Currently, most of them are overflowing with functions that are largely underused. Users tend to stick to the unsatisfactory routine of setting low times, watching the food, stopping and touching, and then repeating the process. Instead, how about a camera recognition system that gets to know the foods we eat, how we heat them, and makes suggestions from other users’ habits? We don’t care about the time our food cooks, we care about it’s temperature. Using a thermographic focusing system, the next upgrade allows you to simply set ‘hot’ and let it reliably fulfill the request. Microwave 2.0 doesn’t come with these, but it comes with the slots for them. Once unit sales can justify the investment, these update packages can be engineered, driving both users to keep their microwave in favor of getting a new one and green aftermarket revenue for the manufacturer.
Now that users are inspired to keep their microwave, they need to be able to keep it working. Once I discovered that microwaves are the most dangerous appliance to fix in most households, my aspirations for this project were almost dashed. It was a stroke of good fortune when I discovered that just as recently as this last summer a new type of microwave oven had been engineered that is much safer to handle. But how to implement it? I struggled with inelegant ideations for a while until I turned to the Autodesk Improving Product Lifetimes videos, which directly informed every design decision I made in regards to function, fabrication, and end-of-life.

The final design includes easy-to-install components. Touchscreen instructions make replacing a part as simple as clearing a paper jam from a copier. Drawer slides help parts slide out for access. The exterior of the microwave can be easily customized; third-party manufacturers can design exteriors that better match a user's kitchen, so someone is more likely to love the microwave and want to keep it.

The microwave can also be easily recycled. The unpainted stainless steel fasteners don't need to be removed before recycling, so there's virtually no need for disassembly. The unit's other materials—Paperstone, glass, and ceramic—were also selected for sustainability.
Images courtesy of Marshall Jamshidi\n
via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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