Study of a comparable electronic system

Research Question:

  • How easy can we pick up the (new) habit of hanging keys on a predefined spot?

Research goal:

To experience how difficult and acceptable it will be for future users of the KeyPing system to hang up their keys on a predefined spot, we studied the electronic key card system that hotels often use nowadays. This system consists of a key card which has to be placed in a special card holder near the entrance to activate the power in the room. When the card is taken out of its holder, all lights and other electronic devices automatically turn off in a few seconds (users defined).

If we consider the KeyPing to be a (similar) system that has to be activated when someone enters the house, this hotel system is a great example to investigate how difficult (or easy) it is to pick up the habit of placing the keys on a predefined spot.

Our first thought while creating the initial KeyPing was to make the whole system subtle and unobtrusive, which meant that hanging the keys would be as natural as possible. We noticed that most of our acquaintances have a fixed spot where they normally drop their keys when coming home, which implied that we could ‘use’ this habit in favor of our own system. But the question was how hard it would be to change this habit, but also how difficult it would be to learn people a new habit on occasion.


The study showed that it is quite easy to pick up a new habit when it comes to placing keys on a particular spot in the house. It happened only the first few times, that we forgot to insert the key card (also due to the fact that it was still daytime, so there was no need to turn on the light) and eventually experienced that the warm water was not working or the air-conditioning could not be turned on. But after a few times, the unusual event of placing a card to activate the power became a natural habit. This saves energy, but will also help the guest to not forget their keys when going out.

This shows that for future users of the KeyPing system who do not even have (had) a particular habit of hanging their keys or just a different one, it is relatively easy to acquire a new habit within the event of coming home. Even when the intended action is new and therefore not subtle or unobtrusive at all, the action easily becomes natural and part of the daily routine.

Despite the fact that hotel guests have to rely completely on the card system to have the power activated in their hotel room (as both illustrations show), whereas the KeyPing is an optional and ‘extra’ system in the house, there are certainly some aspects of the system we can apply in our new concept. An example is the immediate feedback of the system: the lights switch automatically on and the fan starts moving when the card is inserted. In our initial model of the KeyPing, the LEDs started flickering when the keys were attached to the board, which was one of the more valued and therefore interesting features of the system. So we definitely have to keep this aspect in our new concept to even enhance the feeling of coming home and – more implicit – the connectedness with family and friends.

The way the keys are connected to the board can differ and are illustrated in the collage of some existing key racks below. We will use these collages as inspiration for our final concept of the KeyPing.

hang on_Page_1

hang on_Page_2


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