Smart Homes

By 2018, research firm HIS Technology, predicts that 45 million smart home devices will have been installed, and the annual business volume will have grown to $12 billion dollars.

The business potential has attracted technology household names such as Amazon, Apple and Samsung. With its unique “one-tap activation” and a lower starting price, DIY  smart home system OOMI, hopes to tap into the young renters niche market. 


After raising over $1.7 million on Indiegogo and shipping its first prototypes, the OOMI team wanted to take into account the feedback of its beta testers for its first iteration of the product. The OOMI team recognized that they had a major opportunity to take their beta tester feedback and reiterate the product before the next release. The main goal of the OOMI team was to decrease time on tasks, such as onboarding, finding devices and navigate the different functionalities of the tablet and create a more interactive and seamless user experience.


To understand the main pain points of the existing interface, I set up interviews with six users that met the following criteria:

  • Not familiar with the product
  • Not owning a smart home system
  • Aged between 25-35
  • With an income under 80000k


The interviews took place at each user house and were video recorded. With the help of two UX researchers I asked each user to unpack a OOMI box, set up the OOMI Cube and Tablet, connect a light bulb and a sensor and finally set the light bulb to switch off at 8pm. I asked them to express what they thought about the product. The sessions were followed up with two interviews, one immediately after the set up and one seven days later.


The set-up exercise and first interviews surfaced some commons themes:

  • Confusing onboarding and non-existent feedback
  • Difficulties navigating widgets
  • Lack of knowledge of what the product can do
  • Hidden features


How do people interact with their homes?


Home sweet (smart) Home

After the user testings I wanted to take a better look into how a smart home system can improve people’s lifestyles.

I sat down with each one of the six users for some longer interviews. I wanted to understand the relation they had with their home and asked them to walk me through their previous day, from the moment they woke up until the moment they went to bed.

For some, home is a sanctuary where they can let go after long hours of work, a place where they can feel comfortable and safe. For others their house is not their home, it’s a roof over their head. Some like to spend time inside, some prefer to stay out as much as possible. Some live alone, some with roommates, some with family, some with strangers. But no matter the level of attachment to the house or the living arrangements one thing that all interviewee had in common is that they had habits and routines. Thus, it was essential to me that the re design took into account that a smart home can adapts to its owner lifestyle and routines.

The redesign process

The project deliverable was a brand new onboarding flow and redesigned user interface for both the tablet and a possible future app. My role was to research, strategize, wireframe, and design.

With a better understanding of the actual pain points of the tablet and needs of the users I wrote down some design principles and designs questions that would help me keep on track through the entire redesign.   

Design Principles

  • The product should provide feedback and guidance
  • It should adapt to the user’s habits
  • It should interfere the least possible with the user's life
  • Provide minimal yet enjoyable interactions
  • It should be personal and adaptable


To make sure no time was invested in superfluous designs I made sure to always as these two questions before any final decisions:

  • Is this functionality really needed by the user?
  • Is it easy to use?

An intuitive and friendly onboarding experience

Onboarding is the first opportunity for OOMI to connect on a personal level with the user. To automate and simplify the set up process an updated onboarding flow solves most of the problems gathered from the user testings and interviews. The steps are reduced at a minimum and the experience is made more personal through a chatbot-like conversation mode. Clear feedback at each steps gives the user a sense of context as they navigate through the entire flow. Two rounds of usability testing of a first prototype showed a decrease of one minute for the new onboarding compared to the old one.


A Simplified navigation structure

The most demanded feature was the ability to create and automate actions and set them as favorites. Actions are one of the most important features of the OOMI experience. Through them, users can create automation and set up routines. Setting-up was already possible in OOMI but no user was able to locate it or to actually use it.  

To simplify the process and create a consistent system I took inspiration from the IFTTT recipe model. After selecting a trigger the users are asked to choose an action. Once the action is created they can name it and add it to the dashboard as a shortcut or access it through the redesigned Dashboard. To group actions together they can simply drag and drop different actions in the actions screen and thus create a routine.

Shortcuts make everything easier

The dashboard is the center of the OOMI tablet experience and should provide the users with quick and easy ways to do and find anything they need. After restructuring the navigation I created a system of shortcuts. Shortcuts are a way for the user to quickly activate actions or access their favorite features through the dashboard. No more need to dig into the settings or navigate out of the home screen.

Give context and inspire

Did you know that exposure to red light before going to bed can improve your sleep? I, like the vast majority of the users I interviewed didn’t know that. I learned that, and many other tips, by talking with the OOMI team. It made me fall in love with the idea of a smart home. Who doesn’t like to upgrade their routine and day by day?

That made me think of a new feature.  To help users make the most of a smart home I created an “tips section”. This section provides articles on how a smart home can improve the user day by day. 

While scrolling through the list of articles ideas, users said they would actually use the device much more and were tempted to buy new devices to be able to follow those tips.

Final Thoughts

To appeal to the younger and tech-savvy users OOMi could dive into the rapidly evolving new technologies such as voice recognition, micro gestures and AI. The use of a tablet seems obsolete these days, the speed of change is accelerating so rapidly that interfaces could disappear in a really near future. Using voice control and micro-gestures would make the interaction more seamless and allow the smart home system to really adapt to the user and not vice versa.

‘Smart’ should stand for more than just automated or connected. By considering first the impact on people, their routines, habits, relationships and lifestyle preferences we can design more meaningful and sustainable experiences that go beyond device-centric strategies.