From Idea to Innovation: How Wi-Fi Becomes an Invisible Watchdog

From Idea to Innovation: How Wi-Fi Becomes an Invisible Watchdog

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From Idea to Innovation: How Wi-Fi Becomes an Invisible Watchdog

With WiFi-Sensing, we support Deutsche Telekom in bringing groundbreaking technology to the market.

"Do you already know ...?" - The difficulties of establishing a new technology

Through our profession, we stumble upon countless exciting apps, technologies, or ideas every day. Sometimes, these things excite us so much that we try to convince friends and family of them as well. Even if we sometimes only get a shaking head, sharing new discoveries is one of the most fulfilling side effects of our job—albeit one that continually challenges us!

Even on a small scale, we understand very well the difficulties associated with the market introduction of new technology. Challenges that grow with the company's size and the technology's obscurity.

In 2022, Deutsche Telekom told us about a new technical possibility named "Wifi-Sensing". This would allow the detection of movement patterns from the disturbances in the Wi-Fi signal caused by humans. We were immediately excited: A technology that could redefine alarm systems, fall detection for the elderly, and possibly even health functions such as breath monitoring. At the same time, this technology could be relatively easily deployed to Telekom's approximately 20 million broadband connections.

However, we also knew it would be difficult to design these new possibilities in a way that would find acceptance among customers.

Through intensive workshops with stakeholders, detailed market research, and a series of prototype tests, we developed a solution that resonates with users, successfully anchors the technology in everyday life, and today serves as a springboard for further development at Telekom.

User-oriented, playful, and integrative

One of the central insights in successfully introducing technical products is that a specific problem must be solved or a critical need must be met. Otherwise, you have an exciting technology – but nothing more. So, we don't want a gimmick – but the application can indeed be playful, especially when it comes to learning something new: As the observation of children in everyday life (and countless studies from psychology and pedagogy) impressively show, we learn best in an environment where there are clear rules, where we are allowed to make mistakes, and where we're dealing with a topic brings us joy. An experience we have often made is that customers should not be overwhelmed and forced to use a product. On the contrary, a voluntary decision to interact with a new technology often correlates with more sustainable use.

Against the backdrop of these experiences and principles, we set up the project with Telekom's stakeholders.

Security is the central need

From the beginning of the project, it was clear that we had to find a real use case if we wanted to be successful. Fortunately, we were able to draw on a wealth of market research results that had already addressed current customer needs. It quickly became clear that "security" was one of the central concerns—and one for which "Wifi-Sensing" could also offer a clear solution.

In an initial concept test, where we presented "Wifi-Sensing" as a virtual watchdog securing the home during vacations, we could validate this direction. Tests we conducted with similar products also clarified the suitability for this application area.

We get to know the technology: A first test with similar products

However, this did not answer all questions. Yes, there was a strong need for security, and yes, the technology could offer a solution. But how do you explain to users this new way to secure their homes? How do you enable them to voluntarily choose this solution? How do you alleviate their fears? How do you ensure that nothing goes wrong during setup?

Playful explanation makes it easier

Since the explanation effort was extensive and the technology setup was not without pitfalls, we relied on a sophisticated onboarding concept. Here, we conducted three successive user tests with prototypes at different stages of development. In the first round, our focus was on the general direction. Three different onboarding concepts were compared: From a very simple, explanatory version to a playful interface that required a lot of user interaction.

Three routes: playful to reduced

To our delight, it turned out that the playful UI was preferred: It enabled users to better and more easily get into the topic – even though it took more time in comparison. In the following rounds, we refined the concept based on the findings of the user studies and were thus able to achieve a result that found high acceptance and understanding among the users.

Screens that were part of a final in-home test

It's all about the context

However, with a validated concept, the question of voluntary use was still unanswered. Where would users become aware of this technology? And exactly how would they be able to decide to use it? For this reason, the connection to existing Telekom projects was very important to us: Whether in the context of router setup or the IoT and smart home projects of the group. In conversations with the stakeholders of these areas and through the visual integration of the concept into the respective apps, we secured interest and willingness to bring the idea into actual implementation – and where it offers the most touchpoints for the users.

In the workshop with stakeholders

From idea to reality

As in this project, we repeatedly experience exciting new technologies being picked up, but the path to successful market introduction is initially unclear. We are happy to support our customers in facing this uncertainty with tools that enable focusing on real needs, the experience to take promising routes, and the toolbox to validate these at every step. So that when we come home and tell our family about your new technology, it will be with the certainty that it will also find resonance on a small scale.