Intel Smart Monitor

I was a UX Designer on this project, working on hardware components focused on privacy and on-screen display settings. The project goal was to improve the work from home experience. We designed a smart monitor with a built in camera, microphone and speaker components. Our objective was to simplify workflow, minimize workspace and limit the need for accessories. 
We first did a full market scan of both traditional and smart monitors. We focused on design, user experience and price point. This allowed us to see gaps in the market that we could try and improve. Speaker sound quality was lacking in most smart monitors and was considered unbalanced. Microphone performance often was mediocre and did not have easy privacy controls. Integrated cameras were low quality for the most part, often leaving the lens open when the camera is off.  We reviewed smart monitor currently in market as well as traditional monitors to see what areas could be improved..

Market Research

We have some ideas - let's get some feedback!

We started with concept testing and interviewed 15 people for a total of 60 minutes. We focused on participants who work from home or on a hybrid basis. Our questions centered around their existing workflow as well as likes and dislikes about products they use. From our market research, we had some initial ideas on how we could build a high-end monitor that would help users work more efficiently. Aside from the expectation of having a high quality display, there was high interest in having premium speakers, microphone and camera. Privacy was a top concern and was brought up repeatedly by participants. Multiple people experienced fumbling around looking for the mute button on their monitor. Some mentioned covering webcams with tape, paper or a 3rd party privacy slider.

Nearly 30% of all work is happening from home

The challenge of designing an integrated camera focused on privacy

During our research phase, we found that people do not like having exposed camera on computers. Some people leave the camera exposed, some purchase a 3rd party privacy slider, and others simple tape over the camera to ensure privacy. This was a concern that we needed to address. Our first iteration had an external magnetic slider for users to manually block the camera when not in use. The concept was to move the slider on a hidden rail, so users could not misplace the item. There were mechanical limitations that prevented this from being implemented.

Our final design simplifies the built-in camera. The monitor does not have anything physically covering the camera, which allows the design to stay minimal. When the integrated camera is on, the lens is visible and a white status light is shown. When the lens is closed, an internal slider covers the camera lens and the status light turns red before turning off. The physical camera slider on top of the monitor allows users to manually turn the camera off. There is also an option of turning the camera off using the OSD software. 

Physical Camera Slider

•  Slider internally covers camera
•  Red light indicator on slider when closed
•  White light indicator when camera is on
•  Camera cover is visible when closed

"Am I really, really sure my camera is off?"

Users repeated expressed the need of having 100% confidence in camera status. For an additional indicator, we added a status light that shows for 3 seconds after the camera slider is closed. This received positive feedback from the majority of participants, however some did not like having this light on at all and thought it would be distracking. The takeaway was that users wanted full control over their settings. The light on the camera cover is a default setting, however users can disable it in the on-screen display software.

The ability to mute without interrupting workflow

The mute button was a critical concern for users.  Some users mentioned needing to quickly mute but having to spend a few seconds searching for the mute button on the application. Confidence and transparency were clear needs that needed to be addressed. When the user clicks "mute", they wanted to be sure it mutes every microphone in the UX (monitor, laptop, O/S).  "Am I really muted" was mentioned by multiple users. 

What's the quickest and easiest way to turn microphone on / off?

There was strong interest in having a physical button for the microphone.  We explored having the buttons on the stand. There were pros and cons to this approach. The stand needed to be larger and bulkier to accommodate the buttons, which made the monitor look less minimal.  The engineer team determined this approach would add development time and delay the project. Lastly, this was much more expensive to produce. For these reasons, we opted to skip having physical buttons on the stand.

Having a button on the back of the monitor for quick access did not test well. Users were concerned they would be fumbling around trying to find the button.

Having a physical button on the front of the monitor was the best option. Users could quickly tap the button to mute or unmute. There would also be a visible light on when the microphone was on, and a visual notification when turned off. 

Quick control panel with an extra dose of reassurance

The goal is to have the user in full control over their notifications. Users have the option of having on-screen pop-ups that appear for 3 seconds each time the camera and microphone state are changed. This can be disabled in settings. While we designed a comprehensive OSD, we realized most user need basic settings, easily accessible.  We creative a "Quick Control Panel" that simply has controls for volume, brightness and the ability to turn the camera and microphone on/off.

Easy access to additional ports

The purpose of this monitor is minimizing accessories and in turn reducing cords. However, there is a still a strong need for having ports for additional devices and research showed that this is a common frustration. The main ports are on the back of the monitor, however, this forces users to physically turn the monitor around to access ports. We explored adding ports most often used to the side but this wasn't doable unless the monitor was thicker. We opted for adding ports to the bottom of the monitor that could be easily accessed by pivoting or raising the monitor. 

What problems are we trying to solve?

There were various use cases that we started mapping out. Our focus remained on productivity and ease of use. How can we simplify the hybrid work experience?

Can we save users a few seconds and add some privacy?

Wake-On-Approach and Walk-Away-Lock both require Face ID, which we found was polarizing during testing. Approximately 40% of participants did not want to have Face ID set up..  The other 60% found this to be a great way to save time and increase privacy. There was frustration at having to wait a few seconds to turn on external monitors and this could help speed up the process. Multiple users mentioned having young kids and like the added layer of security in knowing their computer would be locked when they walked away. This was another area that was important for users to have full control in activating or deactivating Face ID as well as adjusting the timer for each setting individually.

What are people saying about this product?

12 users tested the smart monitor over a 2 week period. Overall feedback was positive but we had some critical issues to address. The OSD did not have enough advanced controls according to users. We later added in options for auto-framing and the ability to easily pivot the camera in any direction.
Increased Productivity

Minimized Worspace
Increased Privacy 
Reduced Accessories

On-Screen Display that gives users advanced controls

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Andrew Martin

Simple Controls

Advanced Settings

Easy to use

What's next for this project?

We're looking to create a hybrid smart monitor that doubles as a tablet. When talking to users about simplifying their workspaces, there was often frustration around having too many devices and accessories.
We're looking to create a hybrid smart monitor that doubles as a tablet. When talking to users about simplifying their workspaces, there was often frustration around having too many devices and accessories.

We have some ideas - let's get some feedback!

We have some ideas - let's get some feedback!

We have some ideas - let's get some feedback!

We have some ideas - let's get some feedback!

We have some ideas - let's get some feedback!

Card Style

Choose between image on the left or right.
Andrew Martin

Simple Controls