For homeowners in Brighton and Hove who have an interest in purchasing Smart Home technologies, such as thermostats. Hone is a mobile application that offers try-before-you-buy-functionality, unlike a showroom for conventional appliances, the product provides relevant, readable and not-too-technical information.

I think that the more that you say something out loud and the more that you live with that ‘said’ thing and gauge people’s reactions to it, the more that you can appreciate where it succeeds and fails. The text above is the elevator pitch that I created during Ellen de Vries session and upon using it interviews in order to describe what Hone will become, it felt woefully inadequate. However, then I made the mistake of over compensating with too much information about what the app would become. I think that this is a self-teachable moment for improving my interview skills in future as the feel of the UX interview was quite different than anything that I had done before. This pitch or value statement is essential, but it’s failure tells me that I need to be more sure about what Hone actually is and that means acknowledging that it doesn’t sit perfectly, as this or that type of app. It is something of a hybrid. So I think that considering the app as a journey primarily focused on bringing potential smart home customers on board (or onboarded) is a more accurate portrayal.

I will return to the pitch later once I have decided upon the user journey through the app as I think that, that will help to bring more clarity.

This was generally a busy week full of interviews and also I had a conference to attend, Jisc’s #digifest17. The conference wasn’t really related to UX at all, as it’s focus is on the use of technology in further and higher education. There were a few things that struck me as relevant, my full blog post on this is available at my shared work blog (

  • IoT is everywhere and also no where. Yes, this is a bit cryptic, but it felt like the stuff that we might tangibly buy as IoT, such as Smart Home devices are really only the tip of the iceberg. I mean just look at the bins in Brighton ...
  • Machine learning and Big Data are the big things and there are major ethics to contend with in these areas.
  • I found the closing plenary from Lauren Sager Weinstein, Chief data officer at Transport for London (TfL) to be particularly fascinating in terms of how TfL use big data to improve their services.

Another observation, while processing the survey data is that I accidentally mixed up goals and functionality in the questions 21 and question 27. In these questions “What functions of a thermostat/Smart IP Camera would be most important to you?”. In the question actual functions, like heating control were included but also goals like saving money. This might of been confusing to the survey respondents, but in a way it is a happy accident as it tells me quite a lot about how users feel about the devices. This will help me to tease out some of the softer benefits of these devices which may help to persuade the potential owners.

Key decisions around this time

The potential owners of smart home devices this is because they are the ones who need help and the confidence booster to take the plunge. Once these folks have been converted into becoming owners and have trust Hone along the way they are more likely to buy more Smart Home devices in future. In the survey 59.1% of current smart home device owners said that they thought they would buy more devices in the future, and 22.7% answered maybe. Although 18.2% said no, which suggests quite a high level on disatisfaction.

Another observation is that I started to think of Hone as a utility app. I think that this is a good destinction and certainly places in a clear genre, alongside room measurement, planning and interior design-focused apps.