The Best Smart Home User Experience

Our smart home mission starts with the stated aim of delivering "the best smart home user experience", but what does this mean? When it comes to simple service or devices, or the most complex smart home technology, people always take the path of least resistance. Typically, this means an interface that is familiar or intuitive but, this also depends on who you are asking. So our definition of the best smart home user experience is simply this:

The best user smart home experience is the one that works best for the person you are asking, the task at hand and for the current situation they find themselves in.

This means it changes, depending on who you are asking. Smart home user interfaces potentially need to cater for a wide range of people, some with physical or mental impairments, some with mobility and dexterity issues, people of all ages, all sizes and also different states of mind. These interfaces also can't assume specific skills or technical knowledge. Most interfaces need to be simple and inutive. People choose the 'path of lest resistance' so the best interface needs to be quick and efficient.

This also means it changes depending on what they are wanting to achieve. It also changes based on their current situation. Have they got their hands full? Are their hands soaking wet from a household task or some DIY? A light switch is often the best way to control a light but when my hands are full, voice control might be the best way, for someone confined to a wheel chair or a teenager stuck to the sofa, it might be another method.

So our approach is to provide a range of interfaces in parallel to achieve the same goal. There is simply no one interface that works best all the time, so we let each user choose the one that they thinks works best for them.

Having said this, there is one user interface approach that does work best most of the time. An example of this is the lighting in our smart home, 80% of which is fully automated. Our smart home has enough information, context and intelligence to enable the lights to just work around us, with no user interaction at all. This is a "zero touch user experience" and this is what we aim for wherever possible. If you can achieve a zero touch user experience, then it is a user interface that works for everyone, 8 years old or 80 years old, with no learning required.

Why is the remaining 20% of lighting in our home not fully automated and zero touch? This is because people are not 100% predictable and there are times when the user needs to tell our smart home what it needs to do, via one of our many user interfaces.

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