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Honeywell's Command Suite puts design at the focus

Honeywell's plans to improve user experience is reflective in the interface of its newly announced Command and Control Suite, aimed to provide personnel holistic views of a building's video feeds, access control, and fire alarms.
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1 of 5 Aimee Chanthadavong/ZDNet

Since Honeywell CEO Dave Cote announced the company was going to become the "Apple of the industrial centre" last year, the company has been in pursuit of delivering on that mission.

In light of it, Honeywell has announced the release of its Command and Control Suite that has been built to link building automation and the enterprise.

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2 of 5 Aimee Chanthadavong/ZDNet

Through a consumer-inspired designed interface, the Suite, in which the Command Wall with Incident Workflow lives, provides a holistic view of a connected building's video feeds, access control, fire alarms, and energy systems.

According to Honeywell product marketing manager Paul Meikle, the aim is to provide integrated data from these different systems to help security personnel, for instance, in the event of an evacuation, to track occupants and make sure they exit the facility.

"We're building a hierarchy of data points from cameras, from fire sensors, and lots of other I/O, and all of that information needs to be aggregated together, and be presented in a way that is meaningful," he said.

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3 of 5 Aimee Chanthadavong/ZDNet

The design component of the Suite has been guided by the team behind the Honeywell Design Studio.

Honeywell experience design leader Greame Laycock said the company has been focused on delivering intuitive controls for users, much similar to the way users would use their devices if they were at home.

Currently in Australia, the company has half a dozen of dedicated designers, but are looking to grow the team. Meanwhile, globally 150 staff make up the design team, which all work in one of the nine Honeywell Design studios that exists around the world.

"Everybody has a smartphone and have had the experience of using a device like that. Kids these days learn to operate an iPad to play games before they can even speak. So of course, people are bringing these expectations from those consumer products into work with them," he said.

"Why shouldn't it be just as easy, and that's the experience we're delivering."

He added that using the new interface would reduce the amount of time staff would usually spend learning how to use a new system.

"Today if you went into anyone of these complex buildings and sat down in front of the building management system, it would take a long time to really learn how do I operate, how do I navigate around," he said.

"In fact, our customers told us it could take us months, weeks at least, to train people on how to use this system.

"We're leveraging the communal understanding of simple consumer interfaces, and making it really accessible."

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4 of 5 Aimee Chanthadavong/ZDNet

As part of the design process of the Command Suite for customers, Honeywell would often have users come into the studio to test out the systems, and watch how they deal with using it.

"It's not just about the product, we're really thinking about those people and what they've got to do; it's well beyond the product it's about the ecosystem of their people they deal with, the whole complexity of the environment they're in, and helping them problem solve by applying design thinking skills," Laycock said.

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5 of 5 Aimee Chanthadavong/ZDNet

While the Command Wall with Incident Workflow is due to be available in the second quarter of 2015, Miekle said the next phases will be focusing on how to deliver the experience on 4K screens, as well on mobile "electronic touchscreens" such as a tablet.

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