The Talking Laundry module is a smart home device for the visually impaired

talking laundry module 5954585a47585 image
While smart appliances sometimes seem a bit superfluous (how many connected wine stoppers does one person really need after all?), one 14-year-old is here to prove that technology can solve tangible problems, too. Jack DuPlessis, a teenager from Louisville, Kentucky, has created a smart device that helps visually impaired folks to receive audio feedback from washers and dryers. He calls it the Talking Laundry module and while he is responsible for all the code that powers the device, the idea originally came from his father, Sam DuPlessis, a design leader at GE Appliance’s innovation hub First Build.

The elder DuPlessis noted that many of today’s appliances are not exactly user-friendly for folks who are visually impaired. For example, an oven knob may have extremely hard-to-read temperatures, or a laundry machine may have unclear settings. Luckily, Jack DuPlessis had a solution. The teen (who is a self-taught programmer) ended up writing about 1,000 lines of JavaScript code to use a GEA appliance’s service diagnostics board to actually provide feedback about the appliance. Normally, service technicians use this board to figure out why a machine might not be working, but DuPlessis repurposed it and then asked students at the Kentucky School for the Blind to test it out.

Their feedback proved instrumental for the young programmer, as they asked Jack to have the device announce, say, how much time is left on a washing or drying cycle. The younger DuPlessis obliged and programmed the device to give aural feedback.

The device itself is only about the size of an external hard drive and just needs to be plugged into an outlet and the back of a recent GE laundry appliance. From there, the Talking Laundry module will tell users the spin level, color settings, or time remaining.

Such an invention could be instrumental to improving accessibility to the visually impaired, Larry Skutchan, director of technology product research at the American Printing House for the Blind, told Insider Louisville.

“Being independent is really important for people,” he noted. And thanks to smart devices like the Talking Laundry module, independence may be an attainable goal.

Emerging Tech

From tornado flushes to remote controls, modern toilets are flush with tech

With the global observance of World Toilet Day on November 19, we take a look at how the modern toilet in our homes and businesses have evolved, and how they are becoming smarter tools in the future.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Music

The best movie soundtracks of all time, from 'Star Wars' to 'E.T.'

Whether you're a lover of beautifully composed original scores or a fan of perfectly compiled popular music, these are the best movie soundtracks of all time — from Star Wars to Garden State.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Smart Home

How to deep fry a turkey

Want to learn how to deep fry a turkey? Our guide will cover what you need, what type of deep frying will work, why safety is so important, and how to know when your turkey is the perfect level of deep-fried deliciousness.
Smart Home

Smoke it, BBQ it, or try sous vide! 6 alternatives to roasting turkey

Tie on your apron – here are the best ways to cook a turkey without opening an oven. These alternative cooking methods can produce a delicious Thanksgiving turkey without the need for an oven.
Smart Home

You can now make Skype calls on Amazon Echo devices

Amazon's Alexa can now make video and voice calls with Microsoft's Skype audio and video calling. Alexa-enabled devices can make voice calls. Alexa devices with video can make video calls to computers, mobile devices, and Xboxes.
Emerging Tech

Toilet-scrubbing robot takes over one of the world’s crappiest jobs

When it comes to jobs that none of us enjoy, scrubbing the toilet would have to rank pretty highly. So why not hand the job over to robots? Very soon you might be able to do exactly that.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…
Deals

The best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Smart Home

In the market for an Instant Pot? These are the four best

Instant Pots are perfect for people who don't have the kitchen space to store all kinds of appliances, minimalists who want to keep their homes lean and mean, and home cooks who love versatility in the kitchen.
Smart Home

Viral tweets remind us not to ask our parents how to microwave a turkey

People on Twitter decided it would be funny to ask their moms if it's OK to cook the main course for Thanksgiving dinner in the microwave. They were right. The responses were hilarious.