case study:

What’s so clever about a smart home?


Building on a long tradition of manufacturing high quality roof windows, VELUX was ready to look ahead to ensure their relevance in the future. VELUX knew digitalisation and smart home technology were going to grow exponentially in the years to come but needed foundational insights to understand, how they should respond to the trend.


We took an explorative approach and met owners of roof windows in their own homes. This allowed us to gain a deep contextual understanding of end-users’ needs, realities and expectations regarding a digital future of roof windows across diverse cultural perspectives.


We discovered that the promise of a fully connected home was neither desirable nor feasible to end-users. An ease of managing the home was. Operation of windows had a central role in managing the home and insights on how to support this need, gave VELUX a strategic direction for digitalization of the product portfolio.

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Looking for VELUX’ business opportunity in a smart home context by uncovering the human needs of operating homes

"To be honest, I think I would feel less
at home in a smart home"
the challenge

As smart technologies have made their way into private homes it was crucial for VELUX to understand how to respond to the development in a way that ensured their relevance in a digital future.

While smart home technologies have gained popularity both as exciting entertainment and through the promise of frictionless automation, the same value proposition could not be applied to the operation of windows.

The expected duration, size of investment and function of VELUX products made it necessary to provide value beyond the ‘gadget factor’, through truly relevant solutions. By providing VELUX with insights on not just how, but also why people operate windows, we shifted the perspective from product to people.

"IS IT A BIRD gave us valuable insights
into the lives of real consumers which is very important for our success with products in the digital future. I must also say, that IIAB is a breeze to work with."
the approach

Stepping into people’s homes to uncover new potentials for smart home technology.

In order to understand why and how people operate windows, we met German and French end-users in their own homes. We asked them to guide us through their house and tell us about routines, worries and responsibilities around operating windows and homemaking. This provided the context for the following conversation about smart home technologies in general and discussions on specific possibilities for operating windows guided by visual examples.

"IS IT A BIRD dared to challenge our assumptions about the smart home potential and digital maturity in a very constructive way and that has been an important part in setting the strategic direction for the digitalization of our product portfolio."
The Result

One important underlying need met through the operation of windows is care and maintenance of the house and with more technology entering the house the investment in smart products is also an area of great significance. The insights provided clear guidelines regarding different target groups roles and influence in household decisions involving window operations, house management and smart products investments.

Through a deep understanding of windows as a part of homemaking, we discovered two important needs that the operation of windows meets in the home; the first being control, and the second being care and maintenance. This was in contrast to end-users’ expectations and experiences of smart technology that end-users linked to a reduced control rather than an increased control. Moreover, care and maintenance in the households as well as investments in new smart technologies are the responsibility of different members of the household.

Based on the insights, we developed concrete guidelines for future operation solutions. The depth of the insights provided VELUX engineers and product developers with a strategic direction for future development of new solutions to support end-users’ needs related to windows, home and homemaking.

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