Connecting your home
Smart Shades App
The smart shades app offer customers the ability to further automate their home at one of the lowest price points on the market. I designed the mobile application and oversaw the interactions of the remote and shade unit (button + LED).
Laura Lighty - Research
What is the smart shade system?
The system is battery powered and uses Bluetooth to communicate with your shades, both through the whole room and each window. This type of control lets the user let in all the light possible, or just adjust to fix a TV glare. The primary functions of the app are controlling shade movement, creating schedules, and saving shade positions for the room. A remote is not included with the unit, but can be purchased separately along with a solar panel charging kit.
Working in tandem with hardware
This app fits into a family of hardware products. During the development process I worked with the hardware team very closely to ensure a consistent experience across digital/physical channels. This included overseeing the creation of the remote interactions and the LED light responses on the shade unit.
The smart shades work with a range of different sized shades (of a specific brand) and must be installed before use.
During the initial concept stages, I worked with Laura Lighty to create a survey to develop a better understanding of our user group.
How many windows are in the largest room of your house?
When do you adjust your shades?
How often do you adjust your shades?
Most uses of shades are fully open or fully closed, consistent with specific times of day
Making Sense of Constraints
The first concepts and attempts of working with the constraints were on paper. This proved to be a specifically valuable in discussing technical limitations with engineering.
After some concepts were formed and the competitive landscape was examined, rough user flows were created that were expanded upon to build the first screens.
Prototypes – Failing fast
Working through prototypes very quickly helped the team visualize solutions. This also proved to be beneficial for the team as a whole, because for many it was their first time working on a mobile application. Sharing constantly evolving prototypes helped everyone understand where and why changes were being made.
These prototypes were tested in the first stage remotely, this was to promote speed early on in the process and make informed decisions as quickly as possible.
Organization makes the most sense to users when grouped into rooms
To the coffee shop!
After several rounds of remote testing were completed We moved to in-person testing. This was also a milestone for the digital product group because we set up an agreement with a local coffee shop to consistently test with users out of the office.
Another high fidelity prototype was created to test the intuitiveness of the controls. This allowed the users to interact with a shade on a projector and experience the movement of the shade in real time.
Expectations of the control responses vary, but are quickly understood.
The onboarding begins with the option to view the installation videos for the blind. This eliminates the need for the user to read any of the quick start guide included in the packaging. After installation the user is directed to an empty room state, and has the option to see start tips, which were based on testing insights.
The pairing process interaction channels simplicity and only requires the user to name and calibrate the shades positions.
The structure of the app is based on the structure of a user’s home. Each room contains shades and the user can access individual shade control by navigating inward, or control entire rooms from the main page.
Scheduling & Favorites
The user can create schedules and favorites within any room. The schedule feature draws from the ‘alarm’ feature on IOS/Android devices respectively, making it easy to understand for a wide range of users.
This is the first digital product under the Stile brands, so keeping the style guide and beginning to build a pattern library took place throughout the project.
Overall, this product development cycle was a success. The team is much more in-tune with the design/testing process thanks to sharing/commenting on prototypes. For the lack of budget, a sufficient amount of testing was done to validate key areas of the design. The parts of the process that could have been done better were communication of initial GATT intent. Early on there was a brief disconnect between design and engineering that resulted in having to change a key control component (slider to buttons). In future projects, sharing MUCH earlier will be a priority.