Once upon a time, home entertainment systems, security systems and electronic conveniences were all separate amenities for homeowners. They were purchased and installed separately. Today’s homeowners are looking for convenience, safety and entertainment systems all rolled into one. From an inventor’s or designer’s point of view, it’s important to tie all of these controls together to make a marketable product. From the consumer’s point of view, it can be confusing to know which keys control which systems. Integrating functionality and convenience can be done using carefully designed silicone keypads.
Here are 10 design tips for providing a layout for multiple home systems that integrate everything the homeowner needs into a central control pad. Adding in the use of remote control silicone keypads can offer greater versatility for the household. Imagine being able to turn on the lights, disarm the security system and open the garage door as you’re pulling up the driveway with a single remote.
1. Functions – Separate the controls for different systems by grouping them in distinct places on the silicone rubber keypad.
2. Markings – Color coding different system keys makes it easier for homeowners on-the-go to turn on and off the systems they need to activate without fear of hitting the wrong keypad buttons.
3. Ergonomics – Make the system comfortable to use with an ergonomic design. For remote controls, placement of the most used functions the easiest to reach from a hand-held position.
4. Placement – For flat panels, avoid placing the most important controls in the center of a group of buttons, where it’s harder to distinguish them.
5. Accuracy – The silicone rubber keypad should have ample space between keys to avoid activating the wrong keys or two keys at once.
6. Language – Use market research to determine where the product will be released, and plan universal symbols and verbiage accordingly.
7. Backlighting – Things are easier to use when people know that they’ve been activated. Backlit rubber keypads can cue the user by illuminating when touched, for example.
8. Sensitivity – The snap ratio, or how hard the user needs to push on the buttons to feel their reaction, influences how easy it is to use the product. The user wants to feel the password code buttons to an alarm depress, but the volume on the stereo system might not be an issue.
9. Sense – Buttons on silicone keypads need to have a sense of order. In the case of multiple home systems, it needs to be clear to the consumer what will happen when each button is pressed.
10. Effect – Keypads can be designed to create a response aside from immediate action. For example, there could be a delay built into the design. Rather than potentially activating a function, the individual might have to reply to a prompt or hit a second button for safety.