Discuss about the Interface Design on Smart Home Heating Control Panel.
The system design incorporates a control panel that facilitates the users to maintain their room temperature by implementing a sensor for sensing the present room temperature and regulating the flow of liquid (hot water), which in turn transfers the heat. In addition to that, there will be options such as hot air, steam, electric and hot water, from which the user can select the method of heating (Kumar, 2014). The user interface design includes a ‘zone heating’ mechanism that helps setting default temperatures for individual zones or sections of the house. The system can be controlled remotely and is of a comparatively small size. The user interface includes an LCD (liquid crystal display) screen that demonstrates information for the application such as current temperature captured by the heat sensor, present status of the battery, time and operating mode.
The project scope involves a brief description of the overall project and a detailed outline of the major objectives undertaken for the project. The heating system design will facilitate a cost effective approach to heat the rooms in cold areas (Gungor et al., 2013). It fundamentally aims to attract the consumers having comparative lower income and living in hilly and cool areas.
The report focuses on designing a SMART home heating control panel that is utilized for maintaining the room temperature in relatively cold areas. For this purpose, the project involves a detailed approach identifying the basic requirements for the proposed system and thereby builds the control panel using suitable hardware, software and adequate power supply. Therefore, the business goal for this particular project is to facilitate an efficient and cost-effective means to maintain the room temperature for the middle-income consumers living in cooler areas (Hu & Li, 2013). The study involves developing the user interface and control panel for the SMART home heating thermostat. The proposed system can be controlled remotely and allows the users to select a number of options to choose from, each facilitating different methods for heating up their rooms.
The temperature zones are utilized
The user navigates from home screen to the available profiles for zone heating facility
Consumers of the SMART home heating thermostat
· The thermostat is installed
· The user is capable of operating the UI
The user can create temperature zones and enable zone heating through the profiles
The consumer can understand the ease of use of the temperature zone profiles
Flow of events
- The control panel is opened
- The user switches on the UI to start the heating process
- The user navigates to create zone profiles from Set Temperature Zone option
- The user uses the profiles for zone heating after creating them
The user can only navigate to the temperature zones from the dashboard/ home screen
The detailed process followed for the purpose of designing the present thermostat system is described as follows:
User-centered design: The UI design approach typically involves focusing on the needs of a user during the design process. The design process typically involved the following stages:
Analyze and understand user activities: At the first stage, the user activities are specifically analyzed and understood.
Produce paper-based design prototypes: The next step is outlining the basic layout of the design proposed for the user interface (Kuzlu, Pipattanasomporn & Rahman, 2012). The paper based design is made based on the identified and gathered design requirements important to the targeted users.
Design prototype: The system prototype is designed based on the previously chalked out paper based design prototype, keeping in adequate consideration of the required design requirements.
Evaluate design with end users: After the design prototype is developed, it is crossed checked and verified with a group of testers or users.
Interactive functionalities: During the design process, several factors are addressed that are mentioned as follows:
The user interface incorporated icons, menus and clear and concise graphics that appropriately serve the intended purpose (Rogers, Ramchurn & Jennings, 2012). The design process took care of the following factors for the UI of SMART home heating control panel:
User familiarity: The user interface incorporates user oriented terminologies and words so that it ensures sufficient user friendliness.
Recoverability: The system is designed keeping in mind that it should be easily recoverable from specific user errors (Weiss et al., 2012). For example, the user interface should incorporate undo and cancel options.
User guidance: The system includes components that provides adequate user guidance, such as help options, online manuals to correctly operate the system
Consistency: The system involves appropriate amount of consistency in terms of menus and commands for navigations, available options and formats for representation.
Execute prototype: After the prototype is designed, it is executed so as to implement the final user interface (UI) of the SMART home thermostat heating control panel UI (user interface) (Li et al., 2012).
Home Screen: The ‘Home’ screen displays the present temperature, battery status, and the current time.
Figure 1: Home Screen
Zone Heating Profiles: Individual profiles can be configured for setting temperatures for separate sections.
Figure 2: Zone Profiles
Selecting Profiles: A random profile is selected for heating a specific zone.
Figure 3: Selection of a Profile
Time settings and temperature settings: Time and temperature configuration option
Figure 4: Time settings and temperature settings
Saving Time settings and temperature settings: The configurations are saved.
Figure 5: Saving Time settings and temperature settings
Different heating methods: Icons for the available options (hot air, hot water, steam and electricity) for selecting the method to heat rooms
Figure 6: Different heating methods
Choosing a specific option: Selecting a specific one among the available options (hot air, hot water, steam and electricity) for selecting the method to heat rooms
Figure 7: Selecting a heating option
Quick control: Automatically turns on sensor for maintaining the room temperate
Figure 8: Quick control
Enabling quick control: Switch on the quick control mode.
Figure 9: Enabling quick control
Usability Testing and Evaluation
In this section, the designed system is evaluated so as to test its effectiveness and efficiency against performing the required operations (Ramchurn et al., 2012). A set of evaluation aim and methodology is set for testing the overall system against the user requirements and business objectives:
The primary aims for carrying out the system evaluation are demonstrated as follows:
- To measure the level of ease of use and functional accuracy of the individual operations facilitated by the user interface
- To identify and examine the impacts of using the finally designed user interface by the end users
- To measure and analyze the advantages that the system provides to the targeted customers
- To understand the level of consistency, user familiarity and recoverability of the designed user interface
The criteria set for successfully accomplishing the project are demonstrated below:
- The consumption of electricity is potentially reduced, which in turn ensures a cost-saving approach to room heating
- The individual heating options (e.g. hot water, hot air, steam or electricity) are clearly identified and can be easily used and switched as and when needed without any difficulties
- The ‘zone heating’ system essentially allows the users to easily heat the individual zones or sections of the house
- The overall user interface design ensures sufficient user friendliness and easy to operate solution
- The system meets the predefined objectives of the user interface design for the thermostat
- The design process is completed within the predefined time frame as well as within the estimated budget for the manufacturers of the SMART home heating control panel UI
- The interface should have all the functionalities and there should be no scope creep
- The end product is released after the test is carried out and tested for fixing the different issues identified during the test
For carrying out the evaluation, the researcher team utilizes a specific set of rules and techniques for prototyping and interaction.
Prototype mobile UI (user interface) was made available to be used by a group of test users who gather knowledge from the feedbacks and opinions from the users. The user experience is analyzed according to the received feedbacks (Makonin, Bartram & Popowich, 2013). In this process, the evaluation identifies the existing issues and problems in the UI design. Based on the results and outcomes of the evaluation process, necessary changes are brought into the proposed interface design.
This process typically included a questionnaire survey that asked relevant questions to the users about the presently designed UI (Yang & Newman, 2013). The entire process may be carried out more than once in order to accurately identify the errors and major areas for change.
Test audience selection and ethical considerations
It has as of now been specified that the home heating thermostat control panel manufacturers are focusing on the electronic market of cool climate regions for releasing the user interface. In this way, clients who have as of now introduced the thermostat UI in their homes were drawn closer to take an interest in the assessment procedure. The test group were chosen from gatherings of individuals who were willing to take an interest in the said evaluation program (Tsui & Chan, 2012). Other than this, it is worth mentionable that the task group did not furnish them with advantage in real money or kind. It is obviously that the characters of the members, alongside their reactions have been thought to be touchy bits of data and hence have kept up in a secured way.
The evaluation experiments methods are described as follows:
Analysis methodology and procedures
- Using the thermostat user interface (UI) potentially increases the energy efficiency of the overall system. The experiments conducted against the amount of energy consumption thereby utilized.
- The response time for each individual function and operation were evaluated multiple numbers of times
- The test group evaluated the system by navigating through the different sections, icons and menus of the interface
The methods and procedures adopted for analyzing and evaluating the interface:
- A thorough identification process for the individual requirements of the target consumers
- A detailed identification process followed for the corresponding effective technological solutions for the identified requirements (both business and user)
- A detailed feasibility analysis and study of the project design process
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