Smart Homes vs. The Clapper

from the who-wins? dept

Reuters is running an article talking about the future of home automation and comparing all of it to the Clapper, which they say is still the state of the art in home automation for one reason: it’s easy to use. Clap on. Clap off. No cables. No settings. No configuration. No synching. Just plug in, clap on, clap off. The various universal remotes today are very complcated, and often add to the confusion rather than solve anything. It’s a somewhat amusing article, but the fact is that if you’re trying to design something that controls many different objects and has multiple purposes, the level of complexity for the user is going to increase. There’s really no way around that. This doesn’t mean, of course, that usability shouldn’t be looked at – but comparing it to the Clapper seems a bit extreme.

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Comments on “Smart Homes vs. The Clapper”

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todd says:

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My in-laws could not navigate my Pronto, despite pretty icons for each of their favorite channels (in truth, the combination of DSS, TiVo, Pronto and surround sound was just too much).

I’d love to see better “controls” for these technologies, and why not voice?

Push a button, say “CNN” and it goes there. Push same button, say “mute” and it does so. A good microphone with bluetooth or wi-fi connection to a PC with Dragon Dictate (or something), would be great. Put stationary mics on walls all around your place. Use X10 for execution, but voice to control.

Maybe someone is doing it already (let me know — my in-laws will be back in a few weeks), but as someone who spends too much time helping others dim lights and change channels, I agree: help is needed. Clapper simplicity is tough to beat.

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