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

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Our Fortnite: Battle Royale building tips and tricks will help you survive

Fortnite: Battle Royale sets itself apart from PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds with its building mechanics. From gathering resources, to making cover on the fly, to building towers, here is how to build like a pro.
Movies & TV

These are the best movies on Hulu right now (March 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

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 players of every type.

Walmart slashes prices on iRobot Roomba and Shark Ion robot vacuums

Walmart slashed prices of top robot vacuums from iRobot, Shark, Eufy, and Ecovacs just in time for spring cleaning season.  With a robot vacuum on the job you can retire that old upright and let a robot vacuum take over floor-cleaning…

Amazon slices prices in half for AeroGardens smart indoor garden, today only

AeroGardens can grow up to six plants at one time. The plants grow in water, not soil, so you never have the mess of outdoor gardening in your clean home. This method allows the plants to grow five times faster than if they were planted in…

LG’s SnowWhite is a Keurig for lovers of homemade ice cream

LG's SnowWhite conceptual countertop appliance, on display at this year's South by Southwest, is like a Keurig machine for ice cream lovers that produces your favorite frozen desserts from nothing but a little pod.

Amazon shaves $50 off the Coway Mighty air purifier ahead of allergy season

When it's allergy season, a good air purifier is a must-have for sufferers. The Coway Mighty air purifier (now on sale from Amazon) is one of the best, greatly improving the air quality inside your home by removing dust, dander, pollen, and…
Smart Home

Dyson’s newest products strive to keep your home cool, clean, and well-lit

Dyson launched products to keep your home cool, clean, and well-lit. A Dyson intelligent task light cycles with nature and a personal air purifier harnesses unique airflow. Microprocessors in Dyson's vacuum self-adjust 8,000 times a second.
Smart Home

Smart light switches have become more affordable: Here are the best ones

The ability to control the lighting in your home can have a big effect on your living space. To have more control over your lighting, check out the best smart light switches on the market. 
Smart Home

Update your kitchen with the best refrigerators you can buy in 2019

There are tons of factors that go into buying a fridge, from size and capacity to color. It takes lots of testing and research, but we've chosen the best refrigerators to get you started, regardless of what you're looking for.
Smart Home

Walmart serves up a rare deal on the Google Home Max at $100 off

Some deals are predictable and others are pre-announced, but today Walmart posted a rare deal: $100 off the powerful Google Home Max. Since it rarely goes on sale, waiting may not be prudent. If you want one, grab it.
Smart Home

The best smart locks to increase your home security in 2019

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out some great vacuum cleaner deals available right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.