Unfriendly Smart Homes

December 5th, 2014

While it may take smarts to figure out how to get technology to perform our tedious tasks, a given technology isn’t technically “smart” until it makes the task invisible and effortless. Shifting a task from doing something manually to manually controlling a computer to do that thing can still feel tedious. TechCrunch’s Dan Conlon argues that a lack of higher perspective in interface design makes many “smart home” solutions kind of dumb:“Want to turn on the bedroom light? Sure, just pick up your smartphone, enter the unlock code, hit your home screen, find the Hue app, and flick the virtual switch. Suddenly, the smart home has turned a one-push task into a five-click endeavor, leaving Philips in the amusing position of launching a new product, Tap, to effectively replicate the wall switches we always had.”

In The Problem with the Internet of Things, Conlon continues to make a great case for designing interfaces to maximize what he calls “ambient interaction”.