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  • There's more to read
  • TypeStudy
  • Courseno.problem
  • Semester3rd
  • SupervisorProf. Carl Frech
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Dropzones explores a new way of interacting with your smart home by using a portable remote which is at hand anyway: your smartphone.

The main purpose of the course "no.problem" was, to get familiar with the process of Design Thinking. That meant searching for a relevant problem (which can be high level, like global warming, or low level like tangled headphone cables), do user research to observe your problem and get insights from other point of views and after all define a "How might we"-question, which is a definite target towards your goal. It is used to check anytime if you or your team is still heading the right direction.

After that, ideation starts: you collect ideas and do quick prototypes, by which you test these ideas for value.

How is it possible, to realize a smart, intelligent and joyful to use home control for people who live in rental apartments?
How might we question

Ideation – lots of post-its included

I reduced and distilled all the ideas I generated down to three main topics:

  • The context-sensitive remote: Dependend on the location you drop it, your smartphones transforms to a remote for a specific purpose
  • An evolution of the light switch: touch based and personalized scene selection with dim functionality
  • If-then-intelligence: basically an intelligence which learns your behaviours and e.g. switches on the lights for you as soon as you sit down your reading chair

Almost all of these ideas could be realized without fancy hardware and heavy installation work. Basically a bunch of remote power sockets, some Bluetooth Beacons and custom hardware based on e.g. a Raspberry Pi is sufficient. Other ideas, like a 10-seconds-before-locked-frontdoor (for people who tend to forgot their keys inside – like me…) were dropped because they didn't fit to the How might we question.

User Storys

The concept was illustrated by the following five user storys. Each story shows a possible application of the conecept within an at-home situation:

Coming home

Using the touch based switch to identify yourself, choose a light setting and dim it down a bit:

Tea time

The context "kitchen table" activates the timer function. To wind up the timer just rotate the smartphone:


This context sets the phone to silent mode, so there's no distraction while reading. Later one she decides to listen to some music and the phone is used as a wireless audio transmitter and audio remote:

Watching TV

Putting the phone on this dropzone turns on the TV and the smartphone becomes a remote to switch channels. If there's advertisments or the phone rings, just flip over the mobile and your TV switches to silent.

Setting an alarm

This dropzone is somewhat magical, since the phone is sitting upright without any help! In this context it becomes a alarm clock, which factors in your appointments for the next day.

Interface Design

Thx for dropping by :)