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- Pune (MH), India
For controlling and monitoring devices in a well defined area (like Home Automation and Warehousing), I theorized that a UI which could immerse the User in a virtual replica of the actual space would enhance the the experience. I wanted Home Automation control to feel like a computer game.
My first startup, Phaneron, aimed at providing unique User Experience driven Home Automation by doing exactly this. We refined my earlier demonstration called PlanView and created the Phaneron App.
I worked with a Co-founder who specialized in Software Architecture and Development. I contributed by conceptualizing the UI, designing the User Experience and developing the Hardware.
We created the Interface as a virtual replica of the actual floor-plan of the User's Home, including detailed Lights, Fans, Blinds, TVs, A/Cs and other compatible equipment. Each of these objects on the interface were independent interactive nodes, and displayed their characteristic behaviour through animations.
All the objects on the Interface displayed their statuses at a glance. Lights that were ON displayed a yellow glow on the interface. Fans that were ON rotated at the corresponding speed.
The App provided an overview of the entire Home on the landing page, and zoomed in to specific Rooms, as the User double-tapped on the Interface. We aimed to make the App as one-hand-friendly as possible.
Tapping on a Light on this interface would physically switch the corresponding Light and simultaneously animate the virtual one on the interface.
Tapping a Fan would toggle it physically while accordingly affecting the speed of it's rotation on the Interface.
Dimmable Lights were controllable from a Control Bar, and the status of it's intensity was updated instantly on the Interface.
Tapping on an Appliance navigated the User to the corresponding appliance interface. So on selecting an A/C, it opened the A/C control page for the selected A/C. Here the User was provided control similar to common A/C remote controllers. There were similar interfaces for TVs, Media Players and Blinds.
We deployed these Systems in numerous Homes over the course of a year. Our users were most appreciative of the fact that they didn't need to recall the name of each Light while using the App. Users of all ages got comfortable with the App almost instantly, and we significantly reduced the usual learning curve.
I demonstrated this concept to Architects and Interior Designers as well. They acknowledged the efforts towards the App's ease of use, and found it to be a welcome change from common list-based Interfaces.
This was my first commercial venture, and it introduced me to marketing, sales, pricing, finances and other non-technical nuances of starting up. I learned a lot with these experiences under the guidance of my Mentor.
This project also gave me the opportunity to explore Backend Software, App Development and other useful tools.