Housing solutions with smart home automation for users with disabilities.

An important pilot project, which through a home automation system for controlling light points, opening gates and windows, it made possible to concretely improve the daily life and safety of tenants with disabilities in a co-housing.

In 2017, with the patronage of the Veneto Region and the contribution of a team made up of Veneto companies from the Tech sector, the Domho pilot project was launched. The goal is to provide a smart home automation system, an apartment inhabited by people with self-sufficiency deficits.

Our team oversaw the design of the interface and the development of the smartphone and tablet apps, focusing on the needs of the individual user through a “pyramid” scheme to obtain satisfactory results for each type of user.


UI/UX design
Android development
Project Management


Android studio
Android sdk
Librerie jetpack

Team Rawfish


3 years

Prototype publication

February 2021

Img 1. The home automation co-housing apartment in Castelfranco Veneto (TV) used for the pilot project.

Frequent meetings between the project participants were needed to optimise the workflow, and create a strong synergy between the different operational realities. The multidisciplinary team we were part of as technical partners for the design and development of the application, involved different realities with specific professional skills, all coordinated by the University of Padua.

The Domho ecosystem

In order to facilitate the categorisation of home automation devices, the latter are associated with the environments to which they belong, which usually represent the rooms of the flat. The environments are in turn contained within a larger set, the area.

The actors

The Domho project had the main objective of improving the way of life of users with different kinds of disabilities by creating smart housing solutions controlled by home automation devices through dedicated apps.

Not only that, in the Domho ecosystem there are other players such as installers and healthcare professionals. For this reason, we developed their own app for each figure that interacts in the various stages of interfacing with the house.

Human-centered Design

The creation of the IoT system and applications was fundamentally based on the logic of Human-centered Design, that is, the design methodology centered solely and exclusively on the user.

In the design phase, we analyzed the user’s needs, desires and limits from the outset to maximise the usability of the product itself and place the user at the center of the development of the entire project.

In fact, the IoT system created makes all the “comforts” of the home accessible: intelligent lighting, automated doors and shutters, environmental sensors for air quality, cameras for monitoring falls and other risks. All controlled by smartphone and tablet devices thanks to simple and intuitive interfaces to allow maximum use.

Definition of navigation flows

To define the best UX Flow it was necessary to analyse the experience of each actor involved in the management of the Domho system. Starting from the creation of different areas (structures), to move on to the management of scenarios up to the interaction with a single device.

“We analyzed the user's needs, desires and limits to maximize the usability of the product and place the user at the center of the development of the entire project.”


UI UX Designer

Development of communication protocols

The project involves the use of IoT Boxes, necessary to manage different communication protocols, which is not feasible if there was a direct connection between apps and peripherals that use a range of options to interface (MQTT, Wi-fi, ZIPB etc.) .

Thanks to the connection to the MQTT Points, the app connects to the Cloud which in turn communicates with the devices via the Box. If the App cannot communicate with the Cloud due to a lack of network, it sends the input directly to the IoT Box allowing the device to work.

Creation of environments

To understand the Domho system we must consider a specifically designed environment, built such as the Co-Housing of Castelfranco.
Numerous installations were built here, for each one the correct interface with the IoT Box gateway was verified, both using proprietary software and using the various Apps developed to interact with the automations.


In order to create a coordinated and smooth experience to connect the three applications, a lo-fi version was created, also focusing on the responsive behaviour of the interface.

Atomic Design of the Design System

The project required a study of the interface starting from the basic accessibility requirement for users with motor disabilities. The needs of visibility, readability and ease of use have resulted in essential flows and large dimensions of the elements and an adequate contrast between them.

A crucial tool for the creation of Domho’s UI was the Design System: creating a kit of coherent, proportionate and accessible components made it possible to optimize project times and translate all application flows with the same stylistic key.

The design of the Domho interface proved to be a stimulating opportunity for the team, we were involved in the design of the entire set of icons representing environments and devices. The iconography is a distinctive aspect of the project and an added value: each icon was created with a defined outline to be clearly distinguishable in its components, in line with the requirements of the project.

“Each icon has been designed to be clearly distinguishable and recognizable, in line with the requirements of the project.”


UI UX Designer

The interface was created in “light-mode”: light backgrounds in grayscale with an accent colour. The choice of the Rajdhani font was designed to explicitly recall the tech world but at the same time with a view to facilitating the reading of information.

Development of 3 applications for respective user

The presence of 3 types of actors, all involved with defined roles and in defined phases in the use of the app, required us to imagine 3 different apps.

A single application, which satisfies 3 different needs to the same extent with their respective operations and functions, would have been complex for users to build and understand. Determining the hierarchy of the multiple contents and their traceability would have produced an unsatisfactory user experience and this opinion of the team emerged after sharing the initial brief.

The choice to create 3 applications with vertical functions was the winning design direction and in line with the objectives to be achieved. Each user interacts with a tailor-made app, which only presents the functions necessary for him without distractions and unnecessary superstructures.

Installer app

It allows the installer to configure the flat: they can create the spaces that divide the apartment into rooms and for each one they can associate home automation devices such as lights, doors, shutters and environmental sensors.

Creation of the area

The first step in configuring the home automation system is the definition of an area that will act as a “container” for the smaller environments. The installer assigns a name, an image and above all associates a reference IoT Box for the individual devices to the new area.

Creation of environments

The procedure for creating the environments is very simple: the installer simply presses the floating button “add” in the detail of the newly created area and assigns a name and an identifying image to the new environment.

Inserting devices

Each device installed in the rooms is identified by a QR code. To associate the devices with the created environment, the installer simply presses the “add” button in the detailed view of the environment and scans the code of the device he intends to add, identifying it similarly to the previous steps.

Healthcare professional app

It allows the operator to manage the commands of each single device in real time, and create scenarios with automatic or manual activation for the management of the commands most used by the tenants of the apartment.


The app home structure was designed with the aim of making the first screen efficient and clear for users.

The user can quickly access favorite environments and scenarios to activate the devices in the shortest possible time.

Device management

The healthcare worker represents a central figure in the Domho system: he is responsible for the behavior of all devices, which can be individually controlled or inserted within a scenario that affects multiple areas of the flat.

The scenarios

The scenarios activate multiple devices in different areas of the flat, following the habits of the inhabitants.
In the morning, for example, with a simple gesture it is possible to switch on several lights and raise the shutters in the designed areas.

User app

It allows users with disabilities to manage the commands of each individual device and manually activate the scenarios. Based on the degree of motor difficulty, simplified and ultra-simplified apps have been developed for smartphone and tablet devices.

Activation of scenarios and devices

The application intended for users with disabilities provides limited functionality in order to make the experience easy and straight. Users will have the ability to activate the scenarios previously set by healthcare professionals and change the behavior of lights, shutters and doors.

Colours and fonts are the common thread that connects the three versions of the application while the dimensions of the UI elements adapt in relation to the end user: this is the case of the app intended for users with disabilities who have limited functionality and enlarged UI elements. as well as an even more inclusive tablet version.


Utente semplificata

The results

The tests analysed the design of the user interfaces through a series of activities aimed at identifying the interaction activities of some categories of users in the scenarios identified, studying the accessibility and usability of IoT hardware devices identified by the industrial partners, design of the interfaces both mobile and environmental types present in smart buildings.
We hope to participate in other projects that contribute to a future made up of new opportunities for everyone.