Sunday 4 January 2009

Light themes - cool idea but with usability flaws

Over new year we went for a short skiing trip to Bödele in Austria. It is a small ski resort but great for learning to ski (and this is what Vivien did :-)

We stayed in Dornbirn (not far from Lake Constance) in at Hotel Krone and had a really nice room - and it had a remarkable light installation. 

There were several lights (like you have them typical in a hotel room), then there were many switches, and finally there was a full page manual how to use the light - welcome to ambient intelligence! Instead of switching on and off individual lights one can chose a predefined light theme, e.g. a setting for working on the desk, a setting for watching TV, a setting for reading, etc. All lights are switched and dimed to fit this situation (or at least as the designer thinks it would fit the situation).

The basic idea of having light themes is quite interesting but when being in the hotel room with 3 people it gets really difficult to set the lights. Even after a lot of trying out I could not manage to set the lights so that I can work on the desk (desk lamp on), Petra can read in bed (reading light at on bed on), and Vivien can sleep (her bedside lamp off). 

Nevertheless one should not underestimate the entertainment of previously simple tasks - We spend have the evening exploring potential settings, rhythms, and speeds of the colored wellness light ;-)

PS: (1) There is a good natural science museum in Dornbirn - inatura and (2) 3D projections are still not convincing...

PPS: using a GPS tracking device to record your skiing activity (including speed) is cool!