Audrey is great. But I think her main face, her dashboard is showing some age and wear so decided to give her a facelift and to improve on what she provides.
Personal Assistants Are Awesome
I have said before, personal assistants are awesome. They care of all the minutia in your life, allowing you to empty your head so you can focus on the bigger things. But what I have found in life is that sometimes, managing an assistant takes more effort and mental bandwidth than just doing the tasks yourself. I have looking into cloning myself but seemed a few years away. So I did the next best thing… created Audrey to offload some necessarily evils so I can focus on what’s important.
What Audrey Does for Me
A sampling of the things she does for me:
- Takes care of lighting, energy usage, presence, and reminders at the homestead like a regular home automation system
- Watches Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, new feeds, message boards, etc for things I might find interesting
- Tracks health metrics like if I am walking enough, eating too much, and exercising regularly
- Tracks packages and let me know if they are near or delivered
- Keeps track of vacation plans, manages packing lists, and reminders for trips
- Keeps my on track for goals and targets of things I want to do in life
- Finds and downloads movies, tv shows, and videos I like
- Keeps information flowing into my big data Lifestream
This sampling is a good start but what she really does for me is act like an assistant would. She takes care of what she can (things she knows how to do), let’s me know when something is important and can’t do it herself (sends me a text or announces over house speakers when I am home), and gives me information when I need it (a list of things I can read or do when I can). The dashboard is a critical piece of her communication with me.
The Main Concept
Many home automation enthusiasts use control panels and dashboards to control everything in their homes down to individual light switches. Since my goal is to simplify my life, I decided to take another route and focus on events, scenes, and actionable items more than the ability to turn off one light. I think that Audrey should take care of individual lights depending on what is needed. When I get home, set the loft up by turning on the appropriate lights (an event). When its time to watch a movie, adjust the lights for the best viewing (a scene). Or if something needs to be looked at by me or information I look for all the time, show it to me in an easy to digestible format so I can quick scan and take an action.
So, working with some prototypes now, I have decided to focus on a Windows 8 Metro type interface. “Live tiles” seemed to be a natural fit for touch screen functionality and the live tiles allow for quick information immediately or touching, takes me to more information.
Below is the latest prototype of what it could look like. The colors could represent the underlying information (orange for stuff at the loft, green is health related, purple is goals, etc) and when touching the tile, will take you to other screens with more information and options. If attention needs to be paid, the tile will be brighter than if everything is OK. These are for full sized touch screen tablets but working on the same theme for smaller screens like my 5″ phone.
I will continue to refine and then create the dashboards within 30 days but until then, use this as ideas for your own projects if you get some value from it.
Here is a snap of my current dashboard. Although slightly different than the original, I still believe that the ’tile’ motif is useful and attractive.