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Product Development Stories

Auto Door Design

Vol.2Our goal was a refrigerator for all in the family to use conveniently.

Auto Door opens refrigerator doors automatically at the press of a button. We perfected Auto Door’s user-friendliness by ensuring the door opening and closing speed felt comfortable for everyone in the family.

We made exhaustive speed calculations and refined the opening and closing mechanism powered by a geared motor, to ensure the door opens at a consistent speed - whether the door pockets are jam-packed or completely empty. And to maximise the utility of this Hitachi technology, we ran trials with a large number of consumers, from pre-schoolers to seniors. We asked them to try out the function in-depth and queried them for feedback on every detail: such as the time it takes from the button press to the door opening, how much force the door opens with, and how the door stops at the end of its travel.

Out of concern for child safety, we spent considerable time analysing the behaviour of children between the ages of two and nine. This helped us design the door so it wouldn’t open by mistake due to mischief, accident, or while cleaning.

Masanobu Ogawa, Manager, Domestic Products Planning Department, Hitachi Global Life Solutions, Inc.

In our pursuit of usability and safety, our inventions passed by a large margin the threshold for obtaining patents. The new and improved models went on sale in Japan in 2013.

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