The Sum of the Parts
One of Ansen Electronics’ areas of expertise is developing sensors that measure and provide information from a variety of sources in and around the home. From weather (i.e. temperature, humidity and rainfall) to soil conditions (i.e. moisture and temperature) to household electrical usage, Ansen has a device to collect the information. Of course, just as important as collecting the information is communicating the information to the user.
This is typically accomplished with an LCD screen that the user keeps in their home and remotely syncs to a single sensor. Since each sensor is sold individually, a homeowner could quickly accumulate four or five (or more!) screens in their home. Ansen’s goal was to streamline the experience by collecting all of the available data on a single screen with a consistent and easy to understand UI. At this point, Ansen reached out to the team at Priority Designs.
A Smarter Home
Ansen surmised that if a customer was technologically savvy enough to utilize sensors in and about their home, they also likely possessed a smart phone or tablet. With the inherent computing and graphics power of today’s smart devices, a better user experience could be provided through an App that could simply be downloaded.
Priority Designs began by installing, setting up and using the various sensors. The setup and data collection/communication processes were carefully observed. The data was then organized into the available four categories: Weather, Garden, Energy Meter and Socket.
Many flow charts were created to document the variety of usage scenarios the user would encounter. Not only did this allow the team to understand and design the user experience, it also assisted in the identification of the types and quantities of graphics needed.
As Priority Designs was developing the UI, the design team realized there were a number of features that could be incorporated for a richer experience. For example, in addition to providing weather information from household sensors, weather information could also be displayed from available databases. This had the dual purpose of providing a more complete picture of weather conditions, as well as providing third party validation that the collected data was accurate.
The result was an App called iConnect. Within one App, a user can monitor: temperature, humidity, heat index, dew point, rainfall, wind speed and direction, wind chill, soil moisture level, soil temperature as well as electricity usage and cost in their own home. Additionally, a user can remotely turn on and off electrical devices, program scenes and check the weather anywhere in the world.
Priority Designs’ deliverable to Ansen was a developer’s kit that included hundreds of graphics, as well as storyboards and animations that demonstrated how the App was to function and “feel.” The developer’s kit became the collaborative tool that Priority Designs, Ansen Electronics and their software team used to marry a rich, intuitive App to a series of complex and technical electronics.
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