It's getting hot in here
18th November 2009
The Honeywell Advanced Comfort Control system provides flexibility for busy lifestyles and can save you up to 33% off your energy bill. The system can be setup to adjust the temperature when you are away from home or asleep - times when it is unnecessarily need to heat or cool the home to optimum comfort – therefore ensuring that your heating and cooling equipment runs less. It also automatically determines if your home needs heating or cooling to provide maximum comfort as well as economical viability. Additionally, it has extensive compatibility as it works with virtually all system types. In essence, the system facilitates the setting of different temperatures in different ‘zones’ (rooms) of the home. This system provides both financial and environmental benefits.
Figure 1: Advanced Comfort Controller
The interface used by the World Usability Day (WUD) participants is the actual product. The system used for WUD was made up of the wireless touch-screen control unit and 3 valves that would be fitted to 3 radiators providing the means to altering the radiator control.
After users had carried out 4 usability tasks (see below), they rated how easy or difficult they found each on using the following scale:
The WUD participants carried out 4 tasks using the ACC:
- Add in a temperature setting for a particular period of the day
- Delete a temperature setting
- Set and maintain a specified temperature whilst on holiday
- Reduce the temperature throughout all the ‘zones’ in their home
The results showed the users experienced a degree of difficulty in carrying out some of the tasks. The chart above shows that the highest levels of difficulty were experienced when first using the technology (task 1). Although, not a strict linear improvement in task difficultly ratings, participants learned to use the system over a short period of time. Given the short exposure time and relative difficulty of rarely performed tasks (task 3) the results are fairly encouraging.
Virtually all of the users commented that using it would become easier through increased usage and would be very happy to have such technology in their home. The benefits of the technology were clearly understood and the cost saving very welcome in the current economic climate.
Users comments highlighted various issues relating to navigation, content and IA of the system:
- Clarity of what is the home page / no touch to start message.
- Slow incrimination in changing time / temperature settings.
- Language clarity – e.g. Does ‘zoning’ refer to times or areas within the home?
- Problems returning to previous screens.
- Help information could be more helpful.
- Lack of feedback of changes made.
Incorporating the recommendations above will further enhance an already beneficial solution.
User Vision would like to thank Honeywell for providing the system we used for World Usability Day.
What can you do next?
- Read some more usability and accessibility articles.
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This article was written by Laurene McCafferty . Laurene is a Usability Consultant at User Vision, a usability and accessibility consultancy that helps clients gain a competitive advantage through improved ease of use.