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After collecting and analyzing all the data, these were the takeaways. The key learnings from secondary and primary research were synthesized and simplified again to produce the frameworks and system mental models.

Findings & Insights

Understanding Home and Well-Being

The first part of Phase I is to understand what "well-being" means within the concept of "home". Therefore I first studied the concept of home and well-being individually, and the learnings from this step are shown in the first two mental models, 3 Dimensions of Home and The Construction of Well-Being. Then I combined and synthesized them into the last mental model, Well-being in the Scope of Home.

3 Dimensions of Home

The Construction of Well-Being

Well-Being in the Scope of Home

Understanding Smart Home Systems

The second part of Phase I is to understand the role of smart home systems in its relation to people's well-being in homes. 

Users of Smart Homes

Prospective Users
  • Elderly or vulnerable householders who have specific health-related needs 

  • Rational energy users who attempt to manage energy usage in homes

  • Technophiles who are fascinated by the implementation of technology in his/her daily life and appreciate the ICT lifestyle

  • Home improvers that enjoy making incremental changes to incorporate their “self” into their home

  • Differentiated families that have distinct gender roles and identities.

2 Types of User Interaction - One-off v.s. Ongoing

Rather than a one-off preference input, users also engage in repeated adaptive ongoing decision-making and control, where smart homes provide useful information for users to make more considerable, rational and informed choices and decisions. 

Delineation and Characterization of “Home” with Smart Homes

It is also worth to be noticed that homes are more likely to be “co-presence” contexts. This means it is characterized by multiple inhabitants, and the preference and habits might not be shared by others, which need to be negotiated practically. 

Smart home technologies are also spatially laid out, which divides up homes into activity-specified spaces. Homes are also emotionally charged, which reveals the opportunity for smart homes to not only serve functionalities but also the value of creating memories, associations, and relationships that consolidate the family experience.  

3 Views of Smart Home Systems


A monitored, sensed environment that informs occupants allowing active control or automation


An optimally managed building energy system allowing information and price-responsive adjustments to behavior


A digital, technological, networked vision confronted by the mundane realities of domestic life

Challenges of Smart Homes

Technical Challenges

Key technical issues and challenges involve the reliability of monitoring devices and sensors, the reliability of massive data processing algorithms, the interoperability and retrospective capacity of objects and technologies, the reliability of functionality and manageability.

Design Challenges

The fundamental issues that need to be prioritized are security, privacy, trust as well as practical and ergonomic aspects that enhance usability and user-friendliness. These issues are linked closely to the acceptability of smart homes. Designers need to be careful to not overpower users with overwhelming and complicated technologies, and trust users to operate them correctly. 

Positioning Smart Home Technologies within Daily Life at Home

The primary challenge for the success of smart homes that relates to users is to align and fit technologies with the chaotic and discriminated characters of users’ daily home lives.  

It is rare that new technologies in homes are used in the ways that designers have designed. Life at home is “organic, opportunistic, and improvisational” on closer examination. To design for ambiguity and uncertainty and to re-define the word “smart” is the true challenge that is the top priority for user-related issues. 


This is Phase II of this project where the learnings from previous research were synthesized. Models and frameworks were produced in this phase.

Home v.s. Non-Home

Home was a known place for people to return from the unknown. Stepping away from the noisy outside world that is full of uncertainty, people settle, rest and reach inner peace at home. 

People might consider vehicle space as a part of their home subconsciously, also a connecting space between their actual homes and the unknown world.

The Current State of Smart Home Systems

Model of Home, Well-Being, Smart Homes and Users


The Design Phase was the last phase of this project. It first serves as the validation research for the previous insights and outcomes. During this phase, I used those learnings to identify opportunities and guide the design.

General Design Criteria

From the previous research, we already learned what matters most to the users of smart home products. And those structures the general criteria for this design.

The Missing Dimension of Home

Taking an overlook at the current smart home products, nearly none of them offered assistance to implement the social component to the home environment. In other words, there were opportunities to enhance people's social well-being at home. 

Product Vision

Create a smart home system solution that addresses the privacy and usability issues, and enhances well-being at home especially social well-being. 


Due to time constraints, the concept I designed was a Master product that connected to all other smart home products in the household to manage them, with a specially designed app that is tailored for a better home and family experience.

Conceptual System Model

​This concept meets the design criteria in these ways:​


It served as a gateway of all connections from devices to the cloud, which personal data was not allowed to go through.


It increases the usability of smart home systems by integrated management and simple and convenient physical controls. One app and one device can control everything.

Enhance Well-Being in Homes

It consolidates “self-expression” and “self-control” through customizable module design and the control of the other smart home objects. It works with the smart home system to assist activities and habits. The enhancement for social relationships at home is featured in the app


Key Sketches

I explored the form of customizable modules and physical interactions between users and the product through sketching. 


I used quick paper mock-ups to test the scale and usability. The main focus was to determine the size for multiple gesture controls.

Wireframes for Mobile App

I sketched some wireframes before high-fidelity prototyping. My main goal was to find an optimal layout for both portrait and landscape modes.

Mobile App Flow Chart

For mobile app design, I designed this user flow and iterated it to simplify the interactions and information architecture. I also created a special flow for first-time users.

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Smart Home Systems and Well-Being

As digital technology has been vastly developing during the past decades, it changed how we understand homes and how we live at homes. However, a clear understanding of how smart home products should be designed for home inhabitants was still missing.


As most data showed that the growth of the smart home market was entering a plateau period, this was the perfect time to imagine how smart home products ought to be. By understanding the concept of home and the well-being of people at homes with a user-centered approach, this thesis proposed how smart home systems should be designed as a mediator of home experience for users to enhance their well-being at home.  

My Role



My Deliverables


8-Month, Individual

Industrial Design

UX/UI Design






Frameworks to assist the design of smart home products that were generated by exploring the concept of home and the meaning of well-being in home environments, and validated through design.

How might we deliver more meaningful value to users with smart home products to mediate better home experiences?

Research Question

The aim of this project is to contribute to the analysis of smart home products and their users and to propose a preferred strategy for designing the objects for smart home spaces. Therefore, the answers to these questions were to seek for.


How might we understand the role of smart home systems in its relation to people’s well-being at home to create new strategies and tools for smart home product design?

  1. What is people’s well-being at home?

  2. How to understand smart home systems?

  3. What is the relation between smart home systems, home, and well-being?

Umbrella Question

Process & Methodologies

The research is conducted under the interpretivism paradigm. It begins with interpreting and understanding “home” and “well-being” within the scope of smart home system design, in order to understand how home as an experience is shaped and facilitated by smart home systems. It also interprets the relationship between homes and the well-being of home inhabitants (Phase I).


With the synthesis of all the data collected, a hypothetical framework for smart home system design is proposed (Phase II).

The findings will be synthesized and utilized to design an artifact, where the framework will be tested and evaluated to draw a conclusion (Phase III)



Literature Review

Popular Media Scan



Focus Groups


Affinity Mapping


Experience Mapping




Flow Chart



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