As smart home devices become more enmeshed in our everyday lives, we are recognizing just how pivotal of a role they play in our overall feelings of peace and comfort. That’s the entire purpose, after all. Smart technology can find a place in our lives that we were never aware of before, and then makes it hard to imagine our lives without it.
If smart devices aren’t purposeful, they aren’t necessary; if, as consumers, we don’t deem something necessary, then we see no reason to buy it. But in addition to purpose, consumer adoption of smart home technologies also relies on two other elements: design and functionality. Devices can be stylistically perfect without being functional. Many people point the finger at Apple, saying their products are getting more beautiful without upholding the same standards of user experience they’ve prided themselves on since inception. On the other hand, devices can also have functionality without good design.
Let’s imagine there is an argument about which one is more important — it’s obvious that functionality would win, right? But if you’re trying to make a case for either one, you’re part of the wrong conversation. Every smart home product company must provide a balance of both aesthetics and function.
Beauty is functional, too
Home automation companies need to realize that functional beauty is just as important to user experience as how user-friendly the product is. Building a successful product in your market starts with usability, but it is only amplified by good design. If your device is useless, it’s a waste of money. If your device is ugly, consumers won’t buy it. Beauty is not just something consumers want, it’s something they need. In order to create a complete, ingenious device, you need both; it’s an investment worth making if you want to truly disrupt the market.
This is what we’ve done with our August products. We have been very intentional and holistic about our smart lock design from day one, taking into consideration every possible way our customers would interact with our locks on a daily basis beginning with the setup process. From compatibility and integration to how they look and feel, we wanted our locks to naturally enmesh into people’s homes, at the same time, being devices that our customers would be proud to show to their friends and family.
The balance between bold and camouflaged
Just like smart home technologies need a balance of functionality and good design, smart homes need to strike a balance between integrating devices that are expressive but can also blend into their environment. Homeowners should be proud of the way their devices look, but they aren’t always going to want their devices to be the star of the room. Urbie Air is a great example of this. The 3-in-1 air purifier cleans the air by removing harmful particles and excess humidity, but it also doubles as a planter. Its smart sensors can track air quality, humidity, temperature, water tank level, and can even update you on the thirst of your plant. IKEA and Sonos also collaborated together to build Symfonisk, a WiFi speaker that is also a functional table lamp. The simple design allows it to blend into nearly any style of home.
We believe that smart devices should disappear when we want them to disappear and stand out when we want them to stand out. To push the boundaries of smart home technology, we need to care about beauty as much as we care about features. When we care about function, we give consumers devices that solve very real problems. Our locks, for example, focus on access. We give homeowners safe and reliable ways to get into their homes, while also giving them more control over their overall home access and security. But when we also care about style, we create new innovative and effective solutions for the market. And that is the future of the industry.