Saturday, 3 December 2011

Finalized new design

This is the new design that I will present. I have showed the design to many people and have had to change it around a few times to make sure that the user understands what each button does. I had big problems with the meter button. Design after design, people that I showed could not make out what the button was for. Eventually I decided to use the ESB logo to represent the meter button. When testing the logo on people afterwards everyone got the idea of the logo.
Here are the new designs:

  • Home Screen


  • Heating - Home Screen



  • Heating - Clock



  • Heating - Temperature Screen


  • Heating - On / Off



Lighting - Select a room
  • Lighting - Control

  • Standby Mode - On / Off


  • Electricity Meter - Reading

  • Gas Meter - Reading






Wednesday, 30 November 2011

New Home Screen Design

After testing I started to design a new home screen. This will be the base design for the rest of the App. I took a look at some different issues:

  • Using more color and images
  • The navigation of the App
  • Usability 

I decided to change the top screen as it was badly designed and looked out of place. I made the center circle with the buttons in it smaller. I re-positioned the buttons with in the circle as they were slightly off. I also took out all the text and created images to overlay on the buttons. This makes the design look much cleaner and more pleasing on the eye. I also changed the color of the back drop from plain grey to a gradient.
While looking at the navigation of the App, I decided to add a bottom back that would let the user navigate around the app no matter what page they were on. I also added a home selection which means that I was able to do away with the back button. I think the new navigation has greatly improved the design and usability of the app.

Testing

After creating my prototype design I tested it on several different people. These are the questions that I asked:

1. Rate the usability of the App (1 - 10)

2. Rate the quality of the Graphics produced (1 - 10)

3. How did you find the navigation (1 - 10)

4. Rate the different functions that the app have to offer (1 - 10)

5. Overall idea of the App (1 - 10)

6. Any suggestions to improve the App in the last stage of development:


I asked five people to take this quick survey, here are the results:

First Person (Computer and smart phone user:

1. 10

2. 9

3. 9

4. 9

5. 10

6. Some dimensions are slightly off. However this would be resolved in the development stage.


Second Person(Mac and Iphone user):


1. 10

2. 8

3. 8

4. 8

5. 9

6. More use of color with light and heat e.g. to represent values ie red = hot / blue = cold



Third Person(Mac and Iphone user):


1. 9

2. 8

3. 8

4. 10

5. 10

6. More use of color and images.



Forth Person(Normal phone and basic computer user):


1. 9

2. No comment

3. 7

4. 9

5. 10

6. I didn't see the back button until you showed it to me.




Fifth Person(Smart phone and computer user):


1. 10

2. 8

3. 8

4. 9

5. 9

6. Looks good, add some color and clean up the designs and it will be great.



I have looked through these results taking different comments. I am now going to look at my design and try to rework it to solve the issues that the testers had with it.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Additional concept to develop the app to work with Siri

I am looking at the different concepts to have the app to work with Siri. This means that the user can control the app with their voice. They will be able to call out commands like "Turn the heating on and set it to 22 degrees". This will allow the user to turn their heating on with out having to enter into the app.

Motion Graphics run through of the GUI (Take 1)

This is the first run through of the GUI of the app. It shows how the user will progress from screen to screen and the different functions that the app has to offer. It is the first take and will be perfected over the next two weeks. This short piece will be shown to an array of people this week to get feedback before updating the design.


video

Sunday, 13 November 2011

App Screen before they get processed in After Effects.

These are the different windows that are going to make up my app. The have been mainly designed in Photoshop with a little work done to them in Illustrator.

Opening Screen. The light bulb will animate yellow while the app is loading:



The opening window will load into this window. This window will have four options. These options are lighting, standby, heating and meter.

Lighting


The lighting screen will have the same UI as the home screen. Here the user will select the room that they want to control the lighting in.


When the user selects the room it will load into this screen.


The user just has to rub their finger up and down the wheel to turn the lighting up or down/ on or off.





Standby


This is the screen when the user selects the standby option from the home screen.


The user just has to press to button to active standby mode in the house.


Heating


This is the screen the user will be presented with when they select the heating option.


Here the user will have three options. One to allow them to turn up the heating the room that they are sitting in. If the user selects this option they will presented with the same screen again. This time they will select a room. When thy select a room they will be presented with this screen.


The user can turn up and down the temperature in each room by spinning the wheel.

The next option in the heating table is the choice to globally turn it on or off.

The user just has to push the button to turn the heating on or off.

The next option is to put the heating on timer.


The user will select the box and spin the wheel to set the time.


Meter


This is the screen the user will get when they select the meter tab.




There will be two options, one to see their reading and the other to see the unit charges. Here are the two windows.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Designs

I've started to put together a few concept designs. I am trying different techniques to see how the user will interact with them. Here is the opening screen:

While the app is opening the light bulb will glow yellow.

This is one of the first concepts for the home screen. I don't think I'll use this style as it is plain and boring:

I want to try and create something that is different than an options menu. I have been experimenting with a circular design:

This is the very basic concept of the design, the screen at the top will have all the live updates as the user interacts with the design. Down below is the wheel. This is the main area that the user will interact with. The size of the wheel will stay the same and the center of the wheel will be a button on some screens and another live update on others. The six buttons around the wheel will also change from screen to screen. As they are, each one of them is an option. They will change to sliders and other objects depending on the screen. 

The main difficulty of this design is trying to design each window of the app in a circular way. 

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Icon

Just a quick look now at one possible icon design I might go for. I designed this in Photoshop.

I am now starting to work on the graphics that will be contained within the app.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Name for the app

It has been hard coming up with the name for this app. I have had a few different ideas but I think I'm going to settle with I-tricity. I am now going to start to brand the name, creating a logo and choosing the best font for the design.

How the App will link

This is the first draft of how the different component of the app link up. Again this is not the design, it is the links between the different screens. As you can see the home page links to different screens and from there the user receives extra options on which task they perform. 
This is the first draft is will can as the design of the app progress and after the app has been tested on an array of different people. So at this stage it is the skeleton of the app. 




Set up links

This is a brief look of how the set up process will look. This is not the design of the set up stage it is the first draft of how each page will link to each other and the different tasks that the user must perform to set up the app.



Saturday, 15 October 2011

Plans and wire frame for the App


Wire Frame of the Application

What the app does
·      Control the power in each room
·      Control the lights
·      Control the heating
·      Standby switch
·      Meter

How will it control the power in each room?

I’ve been looking into a number of different ways of the app knowing which room of the house that it is controlling at any one time. These are some of the following possible solutions:
·      Each room has a number (The user numbers each room in the house. I don’t think I’ll go for this option as I can see it becoming over complicated.)
·      Each room is named (The user enters the name of each room eg sitting room, kitchen, John’s bedroom etc.)
·      Use the built in GPS on the Apple device. This way the device will know which room it is in at anyone time. (As a house is very small in terms of pinning down location, I don’t know how well this technique will work.)

How to control the power and lighting in each room

·      Once the device knows which room it is in it will show a switch for the lights, the user will be able to turn the lights up and down and on and off.
·      The user will also be able to control the temperature of the heating in that room. There will be a slider that lets them turn the temperature up or down.
·      The user will be able to power every socket on or off at one time.

How to control the heating

·      The user will be able to control the overall temperature of the heating using the app.
·      They will be able to control the temperature in each room by selecting the room and then the temperature.
·      There will be a time control system on the app that will allow them to set when their heating comes on and off.
·      They will be able to access their heating when they are not in the house and be able to switch it on and off.

The Standby Switch

·      Once the app is set up it will know which switches must always be left on and will be able to switch on and off the rest of them. This means that when the user is leaving the building or going to bed that they can make sure that is nothing left on that shouldn’t be.

Meter

·      The meter will show in real time how many units of electricity have been used.
·      It will also break these units down into month-by-month usage.
·      It will display the cost of each unit.


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Design

Design is a very important part of my app. It must engage the user and be easy to use. I have started to research Apple's developer guide. I have also checked out Apps that have won awards with Apple for their design... http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/ada/

I am researching the "user experience" at the moment, Apple say "User experience encompasses the appearance, behavior, and accessibility of applications. Because your users are accustomed to the beauty, power, and simplicity of iOS-based devices, your goal is to design a user experience that reflects these qualities and helps your app feel at home on the device. For the best results, stay focused on the user experience at every stage in your development process."
http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#referencelibrary/GettingStarted/GS_UserExperience_iPhone/_index.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40007296

The user experience is key to my app. After creating the wireframe diagram I am going to design the app in Mock app and then text the app on different people (different age groups, backgrounds etc.)

Monday, 3 October 2011

"See Red Switch Off"

This is the SEAI new slogan. They esitimated that up to €35 million being wasted each year by people not switching domestic appliances off fully. (2004)
"leaving domestic appliances on standby, rather than switching them off fully, is costing the Irish economy millions in wasted energy each year – and damaging our environment in the process."

Souce SEAI http://www.seai.ie/News_Events/Press_Releases/2004/Up_to_%E2%82%AC35_million_being_wasted_each_year_by_people_not_switching_domestic_appliances_off_fully_16_01_04.html

So how much energy is being wasted by appliences being left on stand by?

"Britons waste the equivalent of around two power stations' worth of electricity each year by leaving TV sets and other gadgets on standby. "

British experts reckon that electrical equipment in sleep mode uses roughly 7TWh of energy and emits around 800,000 tonnes of carbon.

The average household has up to 12 gadgets on standby or charging.
It has been calculated that the CO2 emissions from electrical equipment being left on standby are equivalent to 1.4 million long-haul flights.
Estimated annual CO2 emissions from devices left on standby:
Stereos - 1,600,000 tonnes
Videos - 960,000 tonnes
TVs - 480,000 tonnes
Consoles - 390,000 tonnes
DVD players - 100,000 tonnes
Set-top boxes - 60,000 tonnes
(Source: Energy Saving Trust)
These are the facts and figures about Britain's energy wastage through standby. With the app that I am proposing it would cut these figures right down with a simple click of a button!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Smart Homes

I have been looking into smart homes and how they work. Smart homes are not only designed with sustainable energy in mind. They are also designed to help the owners reduce their electrical waste. They use very modern technology combined with sustainable energy methods to bring down their carbon footprint and ultimately the cost of running the house.

Leaving appliances on standby is a big problem in most houses. It is said that leaving these appliances on standby can equate to 25% of a home owners electricity bill. Leaving appliances on standby is not only a waste of money but it is also a waste of electricity.

My idea is to create a smart phone app that will talk to the new PLC boards that are being installed in smart homes.
The app will have the capabilities to power different sockets on or off on the PLC board. So the idea is that when you install this app you have to calibrate your board. To do this the user must power off everything in the house that they don't use during the day when at work or at night when sleeping. Then they must sync these settings from the PLC board to the app on their smart phone. Now these power sources will be programmed to always stay on while the rest of the power sources can now be turned on and off. These power sources will be bundled together and the user will be able to switch them on or off with a simple switch. Now when the user is going to bed or going to work they can simply flick a button on the smart phone and it will ensure that there is no extra power being used in the house.

PLC's and smart homes

I have been researching about PLS's (Programmable logic controllers) and the role that they are set to have in the future of electricity supply. PLC's are digital computers that control the supply of electricity so in essence they are digital distribution boards. These PLC boards are mostly used in large industrial factories and are used in cars. Over the last 5 - 10 years these boards have been installed in homes which have now become known as smart homes.
I have taken a look at smart home technologies and how now most appliances in these homes can't be controlled using touch screen panels and laptops. I have been thinking of some ideas to link smart phones to these PLC's so that the user can start to control and maintain their electricity and heating from a simple app on their smart phone.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Research and Project ideas.

I have been researching sustainable energy in Ireland. It is a vast area that ranges from transport to businesses to homes. The main area I have been looking into is helping Irish homes become more energy efficient. I have come up with some ideas that I need to now look into further.

Researching Sustainable Energy in Ireland

I am researching the SEAI's strategic plan for 2010 - 2015. It also shows the progress that they hope Ireland will achieve over the next 25 years. I am trying to find an area within their plan that could be helped using interactive media.

http://www.seai.ie/Publications/SEAI_Publications/SEAI_5yr_strategy.pdf