Spinute is a mobile app that saves time and money in the laundry process. Designed by Adem Onalan, Tahnee Pantig and Louise-Anne van ‘t Riet. Spinute is specifically for users of laundromats. Some of it’s features include a live schedule, on demand booking and namely, a washer to dryer service.
Initially designed for minimum wage workers in New York CIty, Onalan, Pantig and van’ t Riet found in their user interviews the prevalence of smartphones. Upon further research, they found that amongst low-income workers between the ages of 18 and 24, 56% had a smartphone (Nielsen, 2012). This number is increasing each year and the designers felt that this is a medium that can be used.
“We knew that minimum wage workers could always use more money, but we came to the insight that minimum wage workers could also use more time.”
The designers were aware of existing apps and technologies that had similar features to what Spinute would offer. A similar service was created by SmartThings and there are instructions to create your own laundry notification system, however, these at home laundry equipment. What differentiates Spinute from these other apps and technologies is it’s scale. Spinute is an application that targets the laundromat environment, surveying all machines in use and providing these notification systems and other features to a much wider audience.
The designers were inspired by the insight that minimum wage workers work so much and are under so much stress that even everyday tasks seem daunting . One of the team’s earlier concepts explored the task of everyday cooking and they designed a cooking co-op toolkit to address this issue. They pivoted their focus towards the task of laundry after hearing from one of their interviewees how she spent 5 to 6 hours on laundry. “We knew that minimum wage workers could always use more money, but we came to the insight that minimum wage workers could also use more time,” says Onalan. The app partners with local businesses in the area to offer time sensitive discounts on goods and services related to household chores and personal care. This was prompted by a survey the designers conducted which found that many people would engage in activities and errands related to the household while waiting for their laundry.
The designers decided to focus on features that had a money saving and time saving aspect to them. From their personal experiences, they knew what it was like to take the time to prepare laundry and then to go to the laundromat only to find all machines being used. “I would waste up to 45 minutes just waiting for a machine. That was really frustrating,” says van ‘t Riet. Having a live schedule could prevent this from happening. In addition, being able to pre book and pre pay for machine use would facilitate user scheduling and would provide an alternative stream of cash flow for the laundromats.
One feature of note is the washer to dryer service which was designed when the team examined the laundromat experience and found that there was a roadblock between the washer and dryer cycles.
Roughly 30 and 60 minutes where spent at the wash and dry stage, respectively. If they could remove the roadblock between those two cycles Spinute could provide the user with a longer uninterrupted window of time to do other errands. The washer to dryer service would be offered via the app at a nominal fee and would be a service operated by the laundromat.
Spinute offers an alternative from the current laundry experience landscape. Many startups, such as Fly Cleaners and Washio have targeted themselves at a higher income audience with average costs being $1.60 per pound of laundry with some services only being offered at a minimum rate much higher than that of diy. These services remove the user from the laundry experience but at a high cost. “We know that higher income audiences can afford to hand off their laundry to someone else and shove it out of their minds and to-do lists, but there must be opportunities to improve the experiences for people with lower wages,” says Pantig. What Spinute offers is a platform that is accessible to a larger audience at the low to middle income level. It offers an affordable alternative to the laundry experience while still saving time and money for the user.
The team is in the early stages of developing Spinute and believe that there is still much work to be done. They are hoping to do more market research in the next few months. In addition, they would like to interview laundromat owners and laundromat users to see if this is something there is sufficient buy in for this technology. There is also testing that needs to be done to prove that existing technologies can be adapted to this platform.