Whether you prefer warm white or a cooler white, light is a question of taste and mood. A warm light can help us wind down for the day, and a cooler white light makes the home feel fresh when the weather is hot. Growing up in India, Megha is accustomed to a cooler white light, but after more than five years in Sweden, she has gotten used to the warmer white that is popular in northern climates. Now and then, when she misses her family back in Mumbai, she reaches for the IKEA Home smart app to change the light.
“I feel much more at home with a cooler light and it creates a connection to my family. I am also used to a colourful home. When we first moved to Sweden, we couldn’t paint the walls in our rented home. Instead, we used lights with different colours to give it a homey feel,” says Megha.
Megha Swapnil Choudhari is familiar with all the possibilities with the TRÅDFRI smart lighting system. At IKEA she works with the software development and management for the IKEA Home smart ecosystem and is right now focusing on the different software operations.
“I work with the design you can’t really see, the software design for our IKEA Home smart products. Every six weeks, we update the function of a product, and the customer might notice an even better system or a cleverer product,” says Megha.
Megha studied engineering with software specialization in India, and with a master’s degree, she moved to Thailand to develop software for washers and dryers. After a few years in Thailand, she was introduced to IKEA for the first time.
“I am used to small space living and know the need for innovative furniture. I wanted an affordable daybed that was both easy to assemble and had lots of space for storage. I must have looked in every store in Thailand in my search for the perfect daybed without any luck. When we visited the newly opened IKEA store in Bangkok it was there, the daybed I’d been looking for! I fell in love with IKEA there and then,” says Megha.
I didn’t take long before the family relocated to Sweden, and Megha joined IKEA during the development of the very first IKEA TRÅDFRI smart lighting kits. Working with the five dimensions of IKEA Democratic Design — form, function, quality, sustainability and low price — is important to Megha, and from the very beginning she wanted to be a part of creating an affordable connected home.
“In the past, home automation products were expensive. Overcoming the myth that this is still true is a challenge, but with the IKEA Home smart solution we can offer products that are not just for a selected few, but for the many.”
Can we make our products even more affordable through design?
“To use one solution for all technology, even the future ones, is a good way to lower the cost through design. If we can use the same software through configurations for different products, we can shorten the development time a lot,” says Megha.
Connected homes are for the tech-savvy, is that also a myth?
“It is a myth that you need to know tech to understand how to use automation. The software underneath is really complex, but for the users, we make it as simple as possible. You don’t need to be a tech expert to change the colour of the light. If the end-users think a product is complicated, they end up not using it. And if you don’t use it, it is not a very good design.”
She believes that one reason why smart products used to be expensive and complex is that the tech brands were the first to offer home automation products, and compares the development of home automation with the development of computers.
“The first computers were big, expensive, complicated and not for everyone. That has changed a lot. When we at IKEA entered home automation, we did it with everyone in mind. Today, my grandmother in India uses the TRÅDFRI bulbs together with the app and the remote. The lighting in India is important, you know!”
How smart is your own home?
“My home is quite smart. We have automated lights, blinds and speakers. We have created a couple of scenes with music and lights for different parts of the day. Personally, I am thinking of adding some smart kitchen appliances to our home, because cooking Indian food takes a lot of time. I would like to be able to control temperature and turn on and off the oven or a cooker even if I am at work. You cannot cut short cooking time, so I guess upgrading the kitchen is what I personally will do next.”
What will our future smart homes look like?
“I think there will be no smart home because homes will be smart by default. It will be a norm in the future,” says Megha.