Meet the duo behind Casambi Pro
Casambi Pro, our new planning and commissioning tool tailored for ambitious lighting projects, has finally arrived on the scene. We publicly released it last month. The masterminds behind this revolutionary creation, Timo Korhonen, Head of UX Design, and Tarja Hakala, Product Owner at Casambi, sat down to reveal the story behind the innovation that’s changing the game.
Casambi Pro is not your run-of-the-mill end-user application. Pro comes into its element on vast sites with repetitive layouts, offering an unprecedented level of efficiency in creating and configuring Casambi installations. The need for extensive on-site technical configurations is dramatically minimized, and the result is nothing short of a lighting control revolution.
Tarja Hakala opens up about the inaugural public release, emphasizing that this is merely the beginning. The team plans to roll out new features every few months, responding to the dynamic needs of a swiftly evolving technology landscape. The collaborative journey of discovery with users is a core aspect of their work, which Tarja describes as both fun and fulfilling:
“Features currently present in the tool may change or even vanish in future releases as we adapt to the evolving needs of the real world. These insights are gleaned in collaboration with users, experimenting with the tool, discovering improved methods. Testers have been pleasantly surprised by its innovative solutions, making this process an enjoyable journey!”
Timo Korhonen provides a glimpse into the ambitious task of crafting a groundbreaking tool in an environment steeped in legacy features. The industry is largely accustomed to wired control solutions that have been configured and commissioned in a set way for years. Even the Casambi App, having matured over a decade, presented a challenge as they sought to differentiate Pro development from this main Casambi application. Pro needed to be distilled down to its essentials, the user interface reimagined for both mobile and PC platforms. The unique demands of the different devices add an extra layer of complexity, making the journey an exciting and iterative one:
“We’re pioneering an entirely new approach to lighting control, akin to fitting a square peg into a round hole when considering the broader context. While designing and building the PC version, this endeavor presents a unique challenge as we must ensure compatibility with iOS and maintain logical coherence”.
At liberty to build from scratch
Harkening back to the initial phases of Casambi Pro, the duo recalls a workshop that unfolded in the waning days of the COVID-19 pandemic. They, along with the development team, gathered around a massive whiteboard covered with Post-it notes and a vision by Timo Pakkala, Casambi’s Founder. Ideas, such as ‘groups,’ ‘controllers,’ ‘spaces,’ and ‘layouts,’ began taking shape. The session turned into a delightful debate, as they sought to connect the dots and lay the foundation for their innovative tool.
Timo Korhonen recalls the liberty they had in constructing Casambi Pro from the ground up on the Windows platform. Creating a stable installation was a prerequisite before venturing into the exciting aspects of the tool, a process akin to building the foundation of a house. It took time, but the effort was necessary to ensure the tool’s stability. Deadlines became significant in keeping the team focused on their objectives.
“As software, it never reaches a point of being truly ‘finished’ or ‘ready.’ Our resources were allocated to developing the Windows tool, the server, and the iPad version, with seamless interaction between these platforms and established connections to lighting networks. These fundamental building blocks were in place, enabling us to initiate the beta phase. We made the deliberate choice to introduce it in December 2022, as we had promised. The team rallied around this formidable mental deadline, and this sense of urgency propelled us to prioritize and concentrate on achieving our goals. Drawing from past experience, we recognized the power of having a well-defined deadline”.
Beta testing Casambi Pro
Taking Casambi Pro to Light + Building 2022, the international trade fair for lighting and building services was a milestone. It allowed visitors to experience the tool firsthand, shares Tarja, effectively demonstrating its capabilities. Their voices may have been worn out, but it was a sign of a productive and enlightening time, as they received positive feedback and gained a deeper understanding of the tool’s potential. Timo underscores the vital role of community feedback in shaping the continuous evolution of Casambi Pro. They meticulously record feedback and suggestions, with an openness to new ideas and feature combinations. The collaborative synergy between the developers and the user community is central to the tool’s growth.
The Beta testing phase emerged as an invaluable stage, providing essential feedback. For example, the user resonance with the Space Template need, although initially omitted, led to its inclusion in subsequent Beta releases. This aligned with their eagerness to explore the visualization possibilities that Casambi Pro offers – allowing for creative room layout visualization, far surpassing the limitations of the Casambi App.
A collaborative dynamic
Timo and Tarja’s partnership is described as a harmonious exchange of ideas. While Tarja often assumes the role of the voice of reason, Timo brings visionary ideas to the table. Through negotiation and prioritization, they find common ground, resulting in an effective partnership. Pakkala’s vision for Casambi Pro remains unwavering and never subject to compromise, however.
“As a duo, we riff well together. There is a fluid back-and-forth with ideas. Tarja’s known as the bad cop, and I’m the good cop.” Says Timo. “I suggest great, wild things. She shoots them down. Not always, but that’s her job. Can we do this? ‘Maybe technically, yes. But prioritizing resources or keeping deadline, no, we can’t’. But in the end, we agree on things. Prioritization is a big part of our negotiation. There might be compromises. We never compromise the Founder’s vision. That very much holds strong. And I can’t wait to see what Pro looks like in years to come.”
Casambi Pro stands as a revolutionary leap in lighting control, driven by the visionary collaboration of Tarja Hakala and Timo Korhonen. Their innovative, user-driven approach, commitment to evolving with the times, and responsiveness to feedback are reshaping the future of lighting control. Stay tuned for exciting developments in the world of Casambi Pro: