Deconstruct an Interaction: The Stubborn Glass Jar

To view the observational video, click here.

The glass jar is easily one of the most frustrating, but essential, items needed for the preservation of food. Theoretically, the jar is perfect: it is made of inexpensive materials that can be easily reused or recycled; different sizes allow for different quantities of a variety of foods to be stored; the lid that twists on and off is made to fit perfectly with the jar; the shape makes storage easy; etc. However, in reality, there are many flaws within the jar and its design. The most prominent of these problems is the lid. Everyone is aware of how difficult it can be to unscrew the lid off a glass jar. This is due to the vacuum suction seal that is used to keep food fresh and preserved. As well, whether the jar has a textured rim or not is essential. Smooth rims often cause the hand to slide around the lid without having any effect on the opening process at all. In contrast, lids with a grip are not all that much easier to open either because the ridges in the rim make the process painful.

At this point, people that were observed got creative once they couldn’t open the jar in the standard method. Some ran the jar under hot water, then used a cloth to get a good grip on the lid. Others turned the jar upside down and smacked it against a hard surface to break the suction in the cap. There were a few individuals who even tapped a spoon against the entire rim of the lid and then got the jar open. There was one case where an individual had to team up with another person in order to get the jar open. In almost all of the cases, people struggled opening the jar – some more than others. On average, it took at least 2 attempts per person for success in unscrewing the lid to a glass jar. A third of the subjects observed actually ended up spilling some of the contents of what was in their glass container – another flaw that comes with this design. Why is accessing your food so difficult?

The flow chart depicts the process that goes into opening a jar – with each attempt, one can reach success or failure.



Our solution was to essentially reinvent the lid itself, since it seems to be the main flaw. In our design, the lid has a set of grooves in which the hand is meant to be comfortably position into. This allows for a firm grip, without the hand slipping, and without any awful ridges cutting into the hand when pressure is put on the lid. As well, we added a built-in rubber band to help the traction in the lid. This will make the process less problematic and allow for enhanced grip. This new design will hopefully enable consumers to access their preserved goods without much (if at all) struggling.

(Other possible additions include: grooves to the glass jar itself for the fingers of the other hand, as well as a lever placed underneath the rim of the lid so that when pushed, the vacuumed seal releases the air).

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