The entire concept of aesthetics is just as important as the complex programming and engineering required in the design and implementation of home automation products. This concept is fundamental to make us feel comfortable in our homes. To be able to look around and be satisfied with the appearance of your home is the driving force behind an entire industry. It made Martha Stewart a household name.
My first reaction to seeing some of the products in the marketplace was “you’re not putting that in my house”, or, “where can we hide it”. To me, initially, some of the interfaces seemed unwieldy and incongruous; especially considering they were placed in a room where the homeowner had spent hours agonizing over the perfect lamp shade to highlight the artwork which was selected with even more painstaking care. To place a big plastic blob into the middle of this decor seemed to be the equivalent of velcroing a radar detector onto the burl wood dashboard of a Jaguar. Yes, it does really neat stuff, but look at it!
I know that the QVGA touch screens make many hearts skip a beat, and from a contemporary design standpoint, they can be beautiful. But …many homes are traditional, rustic or transitional and this contemporary design is not complementary. This could be where some of the resistance lies. It just doesn’t “look” right. If a product is attractive initially and looks less intimidating it will have an easier time gaining acceptance in the mainstream household environment. It needs to blend seamlessly, to look like it belongs, even look “friendly”. This equipment and technology is something that most homeowners are proud to own. Something they want to show to their friends and “Hey, look at this!” or perhaps just subtly dim the lights when the DVD starts. Give the consumers a choice of a faceplate or enclosure which blends in or makes a statement.
Finally, intuitive programming is a must. Many manufacturers are now designing their products with this in mind. To be user-friendly and walk the consumer through the programming process can give the product a plug-n-play feel. Those consumers who are more computer-savvy should be able to program what code rocks their world as well. The possibilities are endless.
Flexibility in design as well as function is not an option–it is a necessity in today’s market.