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How to Deliver User-Friendly Smart Home Experiences

October 18, 2016

One aspect often overlooked is the totality of the end-user experience, including a user-friendly and intuitive interface, as well as at every touch point where the end user interacts with the device. The ease with which customers can control a connected endpoint, using a variety of devices and services, is critical to their overall satisfaction with a connected product.

To develop a lasting solution that is easy to access and use, companies should take the following points into consideration:

Seamless connectivity: First, setup should be easy and intuitive for the end user. Consider enabling configuration to run in the background to reduce complexities during setup. SmartConfig and SmartLink can help users discover which devices are connected to their WiFi networks. Also, remember that uninterrupted signaling is crucial with the Internet of Things. Data streaming needs take place whenever it is desired. The IoT should make the end user’s experience easy and worthwhile, and poor connectivity can take that away. Poor connectivity will work against an IoT product, leading to user frustration.

User-centric design: As more and more devices connect to the Internet, end users will become overloaded with connected objects. It’s therefore vital to design products that make life easier for end users. Developers should try to consolidate user interfaces whenever possible, and make it simple to control multiple products from a single, centralized application. Integration is an important aspect of user-centricity, too; sensors, wireless cameras, lighting systems, locks and meters must eventually work together for seamless operating experiences. Finally, customers will have different preferences about connected devices. Devices should come with advanced settings that allow customers to tailor their connected objects to their liking.

Interoperability: Right now there are many different “things” using the Internet. The problem is that most devices—though connected to the Internet—are siloed from one another, meaning they are incapable of swapping information. Software developers and product designers should consider using open frameworks like AllJoyn, so that IoT devices can exchange information seamlessly. For example, picture a fully-integrated light, camera and sensor system in the home. With this type of system, lights can turn on automatically at night. Cameras can turn on when they detect motion. And video footage can be transmitted to the connected home owner, so that he or she can monitor the home from any location.

Service Integration: Leverage third party services to improve your products. This will not only add value (by creating seamless end-user experiences) but it will also reduce complexities when developing IoT applications. For example, use location-based services and logic engines like IFTTT, social media, push notifications and advanced analytics to create more powerful service offerings. You should also consider making your products compatible with voice-controlled services (like Amazon Alexa Voice Services).

Strong security standards: A user may not want everyone to have equal access to his or her connected device controls. For this reason, a device should contain customizable security settings. If users wish, they should be able to protect their systems using technologies such as passwords, PINs or biometrics (i.e., fingerprint or voice scanners). Provide a variety of multilevel security options and permissions, so that customers will feel protected and in control. Data encryption should also be used to protect information while it is in transit.
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