Smart home environments have evolved to the point where everyday objects and devices at home can be networked to give the inhabitants new means to control them. Familiar information appliances can be used as user interfaces (UIs) to home functions to achieve a more convenient user experience. This paper reports an ethnographic study of smart home usability and living experience. The purpose of the research was to evaluate three UIs—a PC, a media terminal, and a mobile phone—for smart home environments. The results show two main types of activity patterns, pattern control and instant control, which require different UI solutions. The results suggest that a PC can act as a central unit to control functions for activity patterns that can be planned and determined in advance. The mobile phone, on the other hand, is well suited for instant control. The mobile phone turned out to be the primary and most frequently used UI during the 6-month trial period in the smart apartment.
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This research was carried out in co-operation with Nokia, Pikosystems, Tekes, and TUT’s Institute of Electronics. We thank all the participants for their support. In addition, thanks are due to Tommi Mikkonen and Inka Vilpola for their valuable comments.
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Koskela, T., Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila, K. Evolution towards smart home environments: empirical evaluation of three user interfaces. Pers Ubiquit Comput 8, 234–240 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00779-004-0283-x