iControl enters. iControl innovates.
The home security industry had barely innovated in thirty years. The same sensors connected to the same panels communicating with the same central monitoring stations using telephone lines. Do It Yourself kit companies have occasionally splashed into the industry with fanfare, but the mass market watches them disappear again and again. The average household needs someone to drill the holes and run the wires.
What if your security panel, sensors, cameras, thermostats, and door locks communicated with a server? What if they could be configured to notify you of activity? Lastly, what if you could view that status of your home on your phone?
A home security system is a complex combination of sensors. The challenge is to provide a visual layer to summarize all environmental and security related activity in the home; a layer that is glanceable and trustworthy. Experienced home security users have never seen all sensors’ states simultaneously. They are accustomed to one small line of text flashing random words like “FAULT” and “READY” on a wireless keypad from the 1980s.
The Orb is the result. It appears on all clients to convey the security panel’s arm state, how many doors or windows are open, if motion was recently detected, and if the panel is able to properly communicate with the central monitoring station. Even with all the complexities of a home security system, the orb summarizes it into a single element. Touching it navigates the user to a more detailed list of activity.
After tapping the Orb, a list of all sensors appears. The challenge is to categorize and present the sensors in an order that is, again, glanceable. Security panels operate using the following jargon: open, closed, motion, tripped, triggered, trouble, problem, and many more. This creates a confusing experience for users who simply want to protect their family and home.
Rules were created to simplify the parsing of all this data, and present the sensors in a meaningful and pleasing way. Sensors have an icon, name, and state. Tapping a sensor navigates the user to a more detailed list of that sensor’s activity. Users can see exactly when a sensor was tripped.
These interfaces required several years of continual iteration. Many colors were tested to learn how to properly convey the emotional state of a user’s home. Is an armed security panel secure or intimidating? Is a tripped environmental sensor an alarm or a warning? Is an open door sensor more important than a tripped motion sensor? What about two open doors? Should sensors be listed alphabetically or by importance? What should the default security panel notifications be? There are literally hundreds of questions like these, and thorough experimentation was employed to explore the answers.
The screenshot is taken from the ADT Pulse iPhone app.