[On the Job] Making Appliances Accessible for Everyone: LG Universal UP Kit
In this installment of On the Job, we look into the development of the Universal UP Kit to learn how LG’s inclusive innovation is providing usability and accessibility for all.
Imagine if every individual, regardless of their physical abilities, age or gender, could enjoy an effortless experience when using their home appliances. LG’s Universal UP Kit, unveiled at IFA this year, makes this inclusive vision a reality, providing innovative home appliance accessories and add-ons that leverage universal design to enhance accessibility and usability.
To develop the Universal UP Kit, an initiative that forms part of LG’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) management strategy, the company brought together several teams, who collaborated closely to create solutions embracing the “Design for All” ethos. Read on to learn more about how the groundbreaking Universal UP Kit came into existence.
The journey began when LG product designers and developers held meetings with a wide spectrum of customers, including those with physical limitations. Feedback from these invaluable sessions highlighted the considerable need for physical tools or accessories – distinct from the Braille stickers the company previously introduced – that could make appliances easy to use for a broader range of people.
(From left to right) Ha Young-soo, lead of the H&A Design Lab New Experience Design Task, Park Se-ra, a specialist at the LG H&A customer experience innovation planning team, and Lee Jae-kul, a senior specialist at LG’s CSO ESG strategy team.
“We wanted to develop a kit offering practical solutions for improving the usability and accessibility of LG appliances, without necessitating any structural changes or the purchase of brand-new appliances,” remarked Ha Young-soo, lead of the H&A Design Lab New Experience Design Task.
The teams involved in the project set about translating the feedback from the meetings into tangible solutions. Prototypes were crafted using paper or wood, and then plastic samples were made on 3D printers, enabling the team members to get a better sense of the viability of their ‘outside-the-square’ designs.
During the development of each Universal UP Kit solution, LG focused on three key aspects of design: functionality, aesthetics and safety. Functionality and safety were the priorities, but the company also considered color and shape to ensure that every accessory harmonized seamlessly with the relevant appliances.
“This project’s strength lies in the initial emphasis we placed on design, and has resulted in products that are not only functional and convenient, but are also aesthetically pleasing,” explained Park Se-ra, a specialist at the LG H&A customer experience innovation planning team. “Taking this approach, we were able to accommodate the diverse needs of both disabled and non-disabled individuals and achieve a level of innovation that may not have been possible if we’d focused solely on safety and functionality.”
The Moving Drawer is a prime example of the Universal UP Kit designers’ concern for the safety of users, particularly those with physical limitations. Made for use with LG microwave ovens, the convenient Moving Drawer ensures a safer user experience by helping to minimize the risk of injury when taking hot food out of the microwave.
“Given the relatively long lifespan of home appliances, the Kit represents a useful solution for both previously-purchased and brand-new appliances,” commented Lee Jae-kul, a senior specialist at LG’s CSO ESG strategy team. “We think there is an opportunity here for continuous development and refinement through customer feedback and accessibility evaluations.”
In addition to the Universal UP Kit introduced at IFA, LG is actively developing and testing new Universal UP Kits that can be easily adapted for various product ranges. LG’s ultimate goal is to provide all LG appliance owners with a convenient and genuinely accessible user experience, ensuring a better life for all.
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