“Smart Rooms” with Miserable Interfaces

On a business trip to London I had the dubious pleasure of staying in a hotel with a “smart” room. As is typical with a red-eye, I arrived sleep deprived and collapsed for a nap. I woke up groggy and in the dark, uncertain as to time of day with the drapes tightly drawn. I got up and tried to open them, which is usually a pretty simple affair of pulling the sections apart or, failing that, finding the chain along the side. Neither worked, so I felt my way back to turn on the light at the bedside table–except I couldn’t find a switch! This created some consternation and woke me up enough to notice the touch screen next to the lamp, from which I was able to laboriously light the room and then open the drapes. Knowing what to expect, I suppose there is a scenario in which it would be nice to open the drapes while lying in bed, but in the scenario in which I had my first experience with the “smart” room it seemed very dumb indeed.

The screen architecture and design continued to irritate for the remainder of the trip. In sleep mode there were no clickability cues and I never could figure out the logic behind the Main menu that displayed next to the bed as opposed to the menu that displayed after sleep mode.

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