(now an old version) The Web and Beyond: "Siri, did I leave the oven on?" Mundane UX for the connected home


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The Web and Beyond, September 26th 2012. I suggest you check out the updated, longer version for the IA Summit 2013.

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  • I love my AlertMe system. It's incredibly simple to set up and use. My only worry is that your website is concentrating on energy saving now and the alarms seem to have been sidelined.

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(now an old version) The Web and Beyond: "Siri, did I leave the oven on?" Mundane UX for the connected home

  1. 1. “Siri, did I leave the oven on?” Mundane UX design for the connected home Claire Rowland @clurrThursday, 27 September 2012
  2. 2. Whatʼs friends the odd family one shopping out? home work travel leisure interestsThursday, 27 September 2012
  3. 3. Whatʼs the odd one out? homeThursday, 27 September 2012Your home is the one significant thing in your life that you canʼt stay in contact with online. Itʼs a big dumb box of mostlydumb things that canʼt talk to you, or each other.
  4. 4. Thursday, 27 September 2012
  5. 5. Opinions are entirely my own :)Thursday, 27 September 2012And the interfaces that I can show right now, I am not responsible for designing.
  6. 6. Whatʼs a connected home?Thursday, 27 September 2012
  7. 7. Embedded computing in everyday objects... ...connected up to the internetThursday, 27 September 2012Sensors and controllers around the home, embedded computing in everyday objects, andconnecting it all up to the internet so you can access and control it via web and phone.Currently that allows you to do things like...
  8. 8. In-home display Web and mobile interfaces Smart plug Understand energy use... Energy clampThursday, 27 September 2012This is AlertMeʼs current energy service.
  9. 9. Control your heating...Thursday, 27 September 2012This is AlertMeʼs current remote heatingcontroller.
  10. 10. Motion sensor Camera Contact sensor Secure your home Key fobsThursday, 27 September 2012AlertMe homesecurity.
  11. 11. Thereʼs more... Holiday home, Connected light recreational bulbs, electrical vehicle, car and sockets and door boat monitoring locks Connected Aging in place: appliances: ovens, panic buttons, dishwashers, activity monitoring tumble dryers Pet care: connected Safety devices: catflaps, gun cabinets (US!) automated feedersThursday, 27 September 2012
  12. 12. This home automation stuff has been around for ages though, hasnʼt it?Thursday, 27 September 2012
  13. 13. Connected home technology has existed since at least as far back as 1975... This is X10 Powerhouse for the Commodore 64, from 1986.Thursday, 27 September 2012 It let you schedule lights and appliances to turn on and off, control a burglar alarm and thermostat, and could be operated remotely by telephone. Those are pretty much the things Iʼm working on right now. Except the telephoneʼs got a bit smaller and now we have the internet. Well, yeah, actually.
  14. 14. ...but you had to be rich...Thursday, 27 September 2012
  15. 15. ...and/or a geek • It was difficult to install • Too many competing and proprietary standards meant poor interoperability • Usability was poorThursday, 27 September 2012 For most people, the benefits just didnʼt outweigh the cost
  16. 16. Things are changing... • Itʼs getting cheaper • Wireless technologies make installation easier • More open standards increase interoperability • Design is (slowly) improving to make it easier for non- geeksThursday, 27 September 2012
  17. 17. People are more accustomed to “little bits of smartness”...Thursday, 27 September 2012embedded computing and even intelligence. my rice cooker is an AI: it uses fuzzy logic to figure out how long to cook for.
  18. 18. ...and we have a metaphor for the “remote control for your life”Thursday, 27 September 2012
  19. 19. The challenges now are less in the technology... and more in understanding and delivering what the mass market actually needsThursday, 27 September 2012NB: big UXopportunity
  20. 20. The industry is better at this bit... “Connected” “home”Thursday, 27 September 2012Itʼs still quitetechnology led.
  21. 21. “Connected” “home” ...than this bitThursday, 27 September 2012No good at designing it in ways that work in home environment. This is where UX comes in.With my colleagues, I have been working on understanding what this technology could do for people, where it often goeswrong for people, and defining what I think a good connected home UX might look like.These come from reviewing competitors, academic research, and our own concept testing...
  22. 22. 5 key UX challengesThursday, 27 September 2012There are many, here are 5...
  23. 23. UX challenge 1: Get the design metaphor rightThursday, 27 September 2012
  24. 24. AT&TThursday, 27 September 2012
  25. 25. Greenwave RealityThursday, 27 September 2012
  26. 26. Home Automation Ltd (yes, really)Thursday, 27 September 2012
  27. 27. Spot the design metaphor?Thursday, 27 September 2012
  28. 28. Spot the design metaphor?Thursday, 27 September 2012
  29. 29. • System has users and • One phone/keyfob = peripheral devices one user • Users have access • Program home for permissions, are in or out optimal efficiency!Thursday, 27 September 2012This is the (very old) AlertMe home monitoring homepage.
  30. 30. “Users could manage their deployment.” The Microsoft Home OS teamThursday, 27 September 2012The Microsoft HomeOS team take the view that this is right.People understand computers, with users, access permissions and suchlike, and that that makes this a suitable metaphor fora smarthome.This causes them to say things like “Users could manage their deployment.” Iʼm sure theyʼre very smart but this is boringcorporate IT speak and most of us donʼt want to take that home with us.
  31. 31. ʻRomantikʼ mode: an engineering solution to a human non-problemThursday, 27 September 2012Modes are a common smart home feature. But they require a lot of planning and advance configuration. Which isnʼt verysexy.
  32. 32. Real life is too messy to program • People are generally a bit disorganised and bad at predicting their future needs • Life is full of contradictions and exceptions • Devices are shared, and lent • Whoʼs allowed to do what is negotiated and flexible, not completely codifiedThursday, 27 September 2012 e.g. Little Jack isnʼt normally allowed to watch that much TV, but today heʼs ill so youʼre feeling sorry for him e.g. The sheets ought to be washed but everyoneʼs busy so theyʼll do for a bit longer.
  33. 33. We already have a perfectly sudo open-window good metaphor for the home: Itʼs the home This one happens to be my home. I donʼt want to log into it, become a super user, or worry that itʼs going to crash or need debugging.Thursday, 27 September 2012
  34. 34. Most of all, itʼs my refuge: the last place in the world I want to feel out of control. And weʼve all seen how people often feel out of control of computers when they are too hard to use or do things we donʼt understand.Thursday, 27 September 2012
  35. 35. The design metaphor also influences aestheticsThursday, 27 September 2012Is this what being at home feels like?
  36. 36. Comcast XfinityThursday, 27 September 2012Comcast XFinity alarm system screenshots. Features words like DISARM and ALL QUIET and a big red circle that looks a bitlike HAL.
  37. 37. Just because my home is connected doesnʼt mean it should stop feeling like home: a safe and comfortable place. It just got a bit smarter, thatʼs all.Thursday, 27 September 2012
  38. 38. UX challenge 2: A home is a complex social contextThursday, 27 September 2012
  39. 39. • There is often more than one person in a house • They have interpersonal dynamics • They may want different things • Some of them are visitors or impromptu guestsThursday, 27 September 2012
  40. 40. “My teenagers skulk in their bedrooms. Theyʼre not out, but theyʼre not really in either...”Thursday, 27 September 2012
  41. 41. • A connected home surfaces information about what is 21 °C 19 °C happening within it • Itʼs often possible to work out who is in, out, turning the heating up all the time, or on the Playstation • When parties have different ideas about how things should be, that surfaces tensionsThursday, 27 September 2012 Itʼs a healthy and necessary part of most relationships to have the right to some private space, and to ignore or pretend not to notice some of the other personʼs behaviours. Technology makes this harder.
  42. 42. Tension between the person who uses the energy monitor and the people who use the appliances is commonThursday, 27 September 2012Tumble dryers are a particular source of angst.
  43. 43. Presence surfaces trust and privacy issues Who came in at what time? (Did they look drunk? Was anyone with them?!!) How long did the cleaner really stay? If this information is up on the internet, who might get access to it?Thursday, 27 September 2012
  44. 44. UX challenge 3: “People donʼt want more control of their homes. They want more control of their lives” Scott Davidoff, Min Kyung Lee, Charles Yiu, John Zimmerman, Anind K. Dey: Principles of Smart Home Control (Ubicomp 2006)Thursday, 27 September 2012
  45. 45. • The computer centric model focuses on surfacing lots of information and controls and programming sequences of actions • It requires a lot of conscious effort and attentionThursday, 27 September 2012
  46. 46. Attention is a preciouscommodityThursday, 27 September 2012
  47. 47. • A lot of what goes on in the home is actually pretty unremarkable and mundane • We develop routines to help us stay on top of the boring stuff without too much conscious effort • This allows us to save our attention for important or interesting thingsThursday, 27 September 2012
  48. 48. My washing machine behaves as if washing clothes was the most urgent and important thing in my lifeThursday, 27 September 2012It beeps when itʼs finished a load. That is fine. But it doesnʼt stop beeping until you empty it. It expects you to drop everythingand come running, right now, because the washing must come out IMMEDIATELY. This is appropriate behaviour from aburglar alarm, but not a washing machine.
  49. 49. What if you had a whole home full of needy, attention seeking devices?...Thursday, 27 September 2012
  50. 50. ..with a whole load of new and unusual ways to break down?Thursday, 27 September 2012
  51. 51. Spend too much time Facebooking your house and your partner might leave youThursday, 27 September 2012Ericsson made a video about the social web of things, in which a manʼs home and his appliances all talk to each other(and him) via some weird kind of Facebook analog. It is meant to look easy but he seems to spend a lot of his time in idlechat with his house. Right at the end, his girlfriend dumps him and he spends the rest of his evening alone with thehouse. Apparently this is a promotional video.
  52. 52. Do the boring stuff Iʼm rubbish at so that I can spend time thinking about more interesting thingsThursday, 27 September 2012
  53. 53. User instructions: 1) Ignore itThursday, 27 September 2012Wattbox - intelligent heating controller (prototype hardware shown).
  54. 54. UX challenge 4: We canʼt rely on existing mental modelsThursday, 27 September 2012
  55. 55. Might call Primary aim is the police deterrence Sensors are just Makes a loud part of the alarm noise Existing mental models...Thursday, 27 September 2012
  56. 56. ...may not map well Primary aim is peace of mind May not be visible/ audible outside Multiple actions Sensor data is possible: cameras, highly visible messaging, lights...Thursday, 27 September 2012Monitoring has some of the properties of a burglar alarm, but not all. But it does a lot of extra stuff too. Thinking of it as aburglar alarm doesnʼt help you understand it.
  57. 57. Some mental models are wrong to start with “When itʼs cold you need to turn the heating on.”Thursday, 27 September 2012
  58. 58. NB: this might sound silly but itʼs far more logical: “My thermostat is too confusing to use so when I want to turn the heating up I put it in the fridge.”Thursday, 27 September 2012
  59. 59. ...and sometimes people just have illogical habits or beliefs that challenge our assumptions about what to design “I donʼt set my burglar alarm when Iʼm only going out for a few hours.”Thursday, 27 September 2012
  60. 60. Sometimes we have to make new mental models, or fix broken ones At a glance, show: what it does, when, which devices are involved, and who will be affected Be forgiving: mitigate the impact of ʻincorrectʼ usageThursday, 27 September 2012
  61. 61. UX challenge 5: Many layers of UXThursday, 27 September 2012
  62. 62. Physical hardware design, boxes and help guidesThursday, 27 September 2012
  63. 63. Device, web and mobile interfacesThursday, 27 September 2012
  64. 64. Cross-device interactions, aka interusability See http://bugi.oulu.fi/~ksegerst/publications/p219-waljas.pdfThursday, 27 September 2012Interusability: usability for services composed of interconnected devices. Important to create the experience of interacting with theservice, not just a device. See Minna Wäljas et al paper in the references.A number of aspects of interusability, like assigning the right interactions to the right devices and figuring out what degree of consistencyis appropriate across the different devices and platforms.
  65. 65. Continuity: Seamless synchronisation of data and contentThursday, 27 September 2012Perhaps the biggest challenge is continuity.If i interact with the service on one device, all other devices reflect that change in state. e.g. if I turn the target heating temperature up onmy physical thermostat, the new temperature should be immediately reflected on the smartphone too otherwise thereʼll be a confusingperiod when I have two devices saying different things. Not that easy to implement!
  66. 66. discover support purchase The whole service experience needs considering in-life use install set upThursday, 27 September 2012
  67. 67. Another big challenge: Doing complex UX on startup timeThursday, 27 September 2012
  68. 68. Minimum viable user research Review academic research: there’s lots of it I dream of time for ethno but right now, the focus is too broad, context too complex to manage it in the time I have Make wireframes and test in a lab... playing fast and loose with ecological validity No early adopters... they’re too unrepresentativeThursday, 27 September 2012
  69. 69. Mobile centric... but not quite mobile first The web is useful for testing conceptual models of new things: you can put lots of things in front of people at once and see how they interpret them Once a products conceptual model is well defined, we focus most heavily on mobile, as the central control platform We zoom back out to web laterThursday, 27 September 2012
  70. 70. User-centred design has good tools for designing products energyThursday, 27 September 2012
  71. 71. platform ? ? ? ? energy heating security lighting appliances ? ...but isn’t yet geared towards designing platformsThursday, 27 September 2012What the connected home needs is a platform: a framework for making all this stuff work together, and lots of new,unanticipated stuff too. User-centred design tools can be a bit too linear for this.For example, it’s impossible to define personas with any degree of specificity for general smart home, its like definingpersonas for people who live in homes. You need different ones for different product lines, e.g. to reflect different motivationsaround energy (whos to say that the DIY fiend in home security is also the energy saver in heating?You have to look at fundamental logical structure of tasks and concepts and look for common components, like timers, dangerwarnings. You then apply UCD to explore each example. I don’t claim we’ve got this right yet and would love to find the rightmethods.
  72. 72. Ultimately itʼs a very broad challenge: Letʼs make all kinds of things for people who live in homes!Thursday, 27 September 2012A complex and worthy challenge, and one many more of us will be getting involved in.
  73. 73. Thank you @clurr claire@clairerowland.com Thanks to: Alex von Feldmann, Fraser Hamilton, Martin Storey, Naintara Land and Anna Kuriakose who have contributed insights, thinking and research to this presentationThursday, 27 September 2012
  74. 74. Fuck Buttons by Matt Biddulph House by lilivanili Office by Phil Whitehouse Shopping basket by Jonathan Harford X10 Powerhouse from commodore.ca Thanks for the photos Internet fridge from fuckyeahinternetfridge.tumblr.com Messy House by Elizabeth Table4Five Trapped by Merina Computer by Phil Gold Crying child by eggonstilts Army from hdwallpapers.com Tea cosy by Brixton Makerhood Teeth by ktpupp Sleeping by Stan Frustration by dieselbug2007 Washing machine firmware error by Adam Crickett Houses by Peter O, Clive Darr, hollandhistory.net Usabilty lab by Leanne Waldal Burglar by homesecurityfocus.com Mongkok advertising by Slices of Light Posh house by Savant Toronto Teenage bedroom by Wendizzle HAL smarthome by james.lipsit.com Jack Black from bradley.chattablogs.com Holiday home: geograph.co.uk Older woman: soylentgreen23Thursday, 27 September 2012
  75. 75. S Intille, The goal: Smart people not smart homes (2006) Thanks for the http://web.media.mit.edu/~intille/papers-files/IntilleICOST06.pdf Minna Wäljas, Katarina Segerståhl, Kaisa Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila, Harri Oinas- Kukkonen: Cross-Platform Service User Experience: A Field Study and an Initial Framework (Nordichi 2010) http://bugi.oulu.fi/~ksegerst/publications/p219-waljas.pdf Colin Dixon, Ratul Mahajan, Sharad Agarwal, AJ Brush, Bongshin Lee, Stefan Saroiu, and Victor Bahl, An Operating System for the Home (NSDI, USENIX, April 2012) research Pertti Huuskonen: Run to the Hills! Ubiquitous Computing Meltdown (Advances in Ambient Intelligence, 2007) Peter Tolmie, James Pycock, Tim Diggins. Allan Maclean, Alain Karsenty, Unremarkable Computing (Ubiquity, 2002). Genevieve Bell & Paul Dourish: Yesterdayʼs tomorrows: notes on ubiquitous computingʼs dominant vision (Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 2006) http://www.ics.uci.edu/~jpd/ubicomp/BellDourish-YesterdaysTomorrows.pdf Scott Davidoff, Min Kyung Lee, Charles Yiu, John Zimmerman, and Anind K. Dey: Principles of Smart Home Control (Ubicomp 2006) T Saizmaa, A Holistic Understanding of HCI Perspectives on Smart Home, Networked Computing and Advanced Information Management, 2008. NCM 08Thursday, 27 September 2012