By Mark Moody, Product Manager, Legrand North & Central America
Design and technology are symbiotically driving an environment to thrill homeowners, home systems integrators, and interior designers with new and exciting keypad options. In fact, with a growing range of unique styles and configurations and faceplate colors and finishes, keypads are becoming visual feature points for home design.
As the major touch point to control lighting and shading, as well as comfort, A/V, and other home systems, the keypad has evolved over the years with technology and aesthetic trends and preferences.
Here are the top trends that continue to shape keypad design in 2018:
Minimalist and Sophisticated Design, But Rich in Features
Modern keypads are designed to be sleek and easy-to-use, but don’t let these simple yet intuitive interfaces fool you. Behind the scenes, keypads come packed with programming choices that allow for personalization that extends from the physical wall mounted device to the mobile arena. We are also starting to see the use of cell phone capacitive touch technology on some of Legrand’s newer keypads, providing a tighter relationship and consistency between mass consumer electronics and fixed keypads. “Tap” and swipe a keypad to drive a personal home scene just like “tapping” your weather app on your phone to reveal weather conditions of your vacation destination.
This move is also changing the way keypads look, giving them an increasingly refined and stylish appearance. But, the evolution doesn’t stop here; consistent design and aesthetics are also available for all other in-wall electrical, network, and A/V devices.
Emphasis on User Experience
Keypad interfaces and buttons are being designed for intuitive navigation of on/off commands to complex scenes that simultaneously alter the position of window shades, the color of lights, and the volume of music. The focus is easy navigation of personalized lighting, audio, and home climate scenarios no matter how simple or complicated the scene – and to do so without having multiple keypads in every space or having a keypad with 16 buttons.
There isn’t a phone today that is not a touchscreen. And keypads for home automation and lighting systems have also been moving in that direction. Manufacturers are taking advantage of touchscreen technology that allows for things such as multi-screen layers to deliver more information to the consumer. Features like gesture, flick, tap, and swipe make it easier for the consumer to quickly get to where they want to go.
Consumers today expect a mobile control component with their home systems. While keypads have their place in home lighting and automation scenarios, mobile apps provide added convenience and control options. While mobile apps aren’t anything new – most smart home devices can now be controlled by apps – the design must be simple to implement, consistent, and replicate the features and functions with the home system’s touchscreen interfaces. Similarly, when designing the physical keypad interface, it’s all about user experience and what capabilities make sense on a mobile app. Also, manufacturers are working hard to make sure that their mobile apps can interoperate with other operating and home automation systems. Voice is evolving as another complementary and synergistic means for controlling the system.
Wireless options have gained some ground especially in remodelling projects, which eliminate time spent running power and wires for the contractor or homeowner. This is a market shift with the wireless opportunity allowing for faster and more efficient installations with no heavy commissioning. The key for any wireless project is the existence of a robust wireless system and network.
Keypad as Part of the Home Systems Equation
The keypad is only one part of the story. Lighting and shading layout and design, programming, and implementation are equal to if not greater than the physical keypad layout. Fixed keypads and mobile apps complement others as varied control points, each performing its designated function. Mobile devices can provide a more personalized experience through personal scenes and favorites. While keypads can provide a more local experience with button engraving and scene programming.