HomeManager for AT&T

Devices and services to expand home communication capabilities

As the industry leading provider of telephony, Internet, and wireless data communication and services, AT&T’s network spans the globe, reaching nearly every major country and metropolitan area.

Looking to maintain its competitive edge and respond to emerging telecom trends, AT&T engaged IDEO to get a fresh perspective on the evolving needs of the “on the go” family — and redesign the home communications experience. The result is the AT&T HomeManager, a system that blends web and wireless phone capabilities with that of landline phones.

IDEO began by looking at the entire communication experience, acknowledging that landline phones play only a minor role in contemporary day-to-day communications. Through user research, IDEO uncovered insights into consumers’ mental models of communication, phone usage, and latent and evolving needs. This initial research led to the generation of concepts for several service offerings, ranging from unified global network address books to visual voicemail (pre-iPhone), and digital yellow pages to content delivery services. Several concept devices and user interfaces were tested with stakeholders to gauge desirability and inspire refinements.

AT&T selected three concept devices to develop: a mobile Internet tablet, a telephone, and a router to link them together and to the broadband network. The wireless Internet device is a multifunctional touch screen device that quickly supplies users with top-of -mind information through an intuitive and customizable digital interface. A dual-position stand allows the device to sit flat or upright, while a unique trackball enables information to be accessed with one hand.

The phone features a unique footprint for easy speakerphone use, with the speaker angled for the best sound reflection when laying on a hard surface. The router acts as a hub for the system, plugging into the consumer’s broadband connection and creating a separate wireless network that allows consumers to plug the phone and frame into any power outlet.

Project date: 2009