One of the greatest challenges with introducing technology into the home is the unintended barriers and annoyances that are created. Take for example an internet-connected door lock. The idea of being able to lock and unlock your door remotely is tantalizing. However, if the initial experience of being able to open your door with your keys is eliminated it may do more harm than good. It could only take one time for your internet to be down to create a terrible experience that you’ll always remember. Any new home device has to do the original job even better, with less annoyances, before we can even discuss new functionality. Otherwise, all anyone will ever remember is the annoyance rather than the value.
This is the importance of seamless design. It should blend into the things we already do. It should use the stuff we already use. Reprogramming humans is difficult. We all have our patterns and our ways. Rather than trying to change those ways, we should design devices that fit those ways.
Take changing the battery in your smoke detector at daylight savings time. Everyone has this same behavior (or at least we should), what other kinds of things can be done during this time? How about checking to see if your smoke alarm has been replaced recently (yup, they should be replaced as well within 10 years). In the case of BeON, it’s a great time to program your lights to turn on in the case of a middle-of-the-night emergency. This uses your pattern (changing the battery in your smoke detector at daylight savings) and the things you already do (push the test button on your detector). Of course, we all test our smoke detectors weekly just like the recommendation on the instructions…right everybody?