ABB Free@home® SMART HOME AUTOMATIONDefining the hallmark for timeless simplicity and elegance through a seamless visual language and technology integration.
Partnering with Radius, ABB sought to bring its innovative free@home technology to the North American market and define a design strategy that would appeal to the unique consumer needs and preferences.
ABB is a pioneering technology leader in power grids, electrification products, industrial automation, and robotics and motion, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport, and infrastructure globally. ABB’s home automation products manage temperature, lighting, and other ambient factors, allowing consumers to match them exactly to their needs. Fully integrated appliances give consumers centralized, user-friendly control via smartphone, tablet, or computer.
ABB set their sights on developing a new product line geared for the North American marketplace. This meant aligning with a dedicated partner that could not only help them realize their product goals but help them navigate the American market landscape and the inherent challenges ahead.
Designing a European Company's First Connected Home Product Entry into the U.S.
In our partnership, our first priority was to help ABB develop a deep understanding of the North American smart home marketplace. Our team explored and visualized trends in connected home products and studied consumer preferences relating to functionality, aesthetics, DIY features, and installation and usability pain points.
We identified key elements from ABB’s design principles to define product experience aspirations and a visual design language that embraced the simplicity, elegance, and precision of ABB’s global design identity. Qualitative and quantitative user testing provided critical feedback and insight that informed the final design solution.
“Essentially, the device consists of nothing but an interface, the design of which is so crystal clear that even very young or elderly people intuitively know how to use it – thanks in no small part to the crisp icons and high contrast ratio of the capacitive display. The accompanying app is based on the same underlying idea of simplicity and directness.”
Designing for the Unique Preferences of the North American Consumer
Developing a smart thermostat that would stand apart in an already densely-populated U.S. market was a key challenge. With the majority of smart thermostats focusing on a multitude of capabilities and high levels of interface complexity, our team recognized that user interaction and form factor were a symbiotic element that needed to be developed as one. By reducing the control settings to the most-used essentials, and making each accessible and intuitive, we created a simple yet iconic shape that reflected a priority interaction; simply setting the temperature up or down.
A focus on form factor during the development process ensured that not only would the physical design support ease in interaction but it would communicate a simplicity and elegance that easily fit a wide range of home interior styles. Here, quality materials and precision were expressed through the bead-blasted aluminum and hardened glass form, further solidifying the ABB brand promise in the North American market.
The ABB-free@home® ecosystem includes a wide range of switches, dimmers, fan controls, and customizable keypads—all connected through a home hub, smart home app, and optional wall-mounted touch panels.
Innovation made possible. Made better through a simple and elegant product experience.
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