Remotely is an ecosystem of sensors with a corresponding app that allows those living in tiny homes the ability to better monitor their efforts to live sustainably and off the grid.
The trend of tiny living is continuing to grow year over year as people seek to find alternative ways to live sustainably. With ever-increasing numbers and an equally increasing desire to live off or semi-off grid we found that there is a need in the tiny home community for a way to better manage and monitor alternative and traditional resources within the unique environment that is the tiny home.
What if you had more time to do the things you love?
Remotely is an app that allows individuals who would like to live more sustainable lives the ability to better monitor their resource intake and output. Using tiny attachable and inline sensors that communicate using Bluetooth or WIFI Remotely’s colorful, inviting, and easy-to-use dashboard gives the user real-time information on all of their resources in their tiny home.
Our process started by getting to know the tiny home community and figuring out what motivates individuals to live in this non-traditional way. By figuring out our user’s motivations we were able to better understand what kind product our user would enjoy using. We found that there were two primary motivations for pursuit of the tiny home lifestyle: Financial freedom and sustainability.
After learning as much as we could about the tiny home community and the sustainability-focused products and those who use them we were able to explore the users even further. From our interviews and research we developed user personas to better understand who our user is.
Once we had a better understanding of who the users are I spent time developing a customer journey map as well as an empathy map. In our development process we had to present to stakeholders to show proof of concept and user need. While all of these pieces helped us to continually check that we were designing for the user first they were also used in presentations to show the user’s experience with the product.
The customer journey map (above) gave us the ability to understand one user’s experience with Remotely from the time that they decided to transition their lifestyle all the way to the time when they are users of the Remotely ecosystem. Using this tool we can better understand how and when the user will come in contact with the product. The empathy map (below) allowed us to get a bigger picture of who the user is and how they experience their desire to live more sustainably.
After our market and user research we were able to start building. We started with a Feature Map and then moved forward into wireframing task flows. We quickly learned that the best solution would not be a traditional task flow but rather a dashboard with a card method that users could quickly swipe through to see all of their resource systems. From this point we started addressing how best to visualize the data so that the user a) can find the information they want quickly, b) is visually pleasing and clearly communicating the resource status, and c) offers evaluative information so that the user can understand their resource use over time.
Starting with paper prototypes and sketches of data visualization methods we began bringing our interface into user testing and got some very good feedback. One of the biggest things that we learned is that the tiny house user is primarily an Android fan. Due to this user feedback, we decided to move forward with an Android-focused design. This didn’t just mean building in a more Android-friendly visual style but we also brought the idea of customization into our app. This means you can choose which sensors you need for your unique situation as well as being able to customize the menu tiles and the level of information that you receive for each resource.
Using our initial screens and sketches we started user testing and then bringing the screens into an Illustrator wireframe so that we could begin prototyping and testing on mobile devices. We used InVision to test the flow of our app throughout the cards and Pixate to text the users experience of subtle animation that we brought into our home screen and the alerts throughout the app.
The final screens (below) are the result of multiple iterations and lots of user feedback. One of the many benefits of using Remotely is that it connects the user with their resources and allows them to monitor them in a way they previously couldn’t. Alert systems let you know when your resources are low and also lets you see when you are filling or using your systems – or if there is an error that requires your attention.
To better communicate the functionality and use of Remotely we created a short promotional video. In partnership with Seana Murphy I art directed this shoot with a photographer and a model. Collaboratively we storyboarded the shoot and took it through multiple iterations in order to accommodate the set and the weather.
Under our direction the video tells the story of the Remotely user’s lifestyle and the care and intention with which they live their lives.