Increasingly, technologies are connected and there is a rising number of Internet of Thing devices. Some of these are embedded into the domestic environment for so-called smart homes. These applications have focused almost entirely on efficiency and usefulness and their number and application is low. Controls are still limited to apps on smart phones or tablet computers or voice-control. But what are the opportunities of tangible, interactive devices in the domestic space? And what do people want or imagine having in their home, beyond efficiency and pure utility?
In this project we will develop so-called ‘speculative prototypes’ of tangible controls that explore potential applications for smart solutions in the home. We will make enquiries into people’s perceptions of what they are looking for in the home and then design for these qualities. The focus of this project is not on making a complete, technically functioning prototype, but on showing how people would interact with these. This could either be in form of a tangible prototype that has some functionality, but could also be shown via a fictional scenario, drawings and collages, a short video, or a combination of the above.
In the early stages of this project we will plan and undertake a small qualitative user research project to learn about qualities people value about their home. We will develop a study protocol that includes methods such as interviews, focus groups, cultural probes or design workshops and use it to gather data about participants’ needs and wishes. We will analyse the data to distill design ideas and functionalities that are based in people’s understandings and wishes.
In a second step we will turn this research into a range of speculative prototypes that will respond to these ideas and perceptions and provide tangible controls for a connected home that is beyond smart.
A focus of this project is in gaining experience with various user research methods and alternative prototyping methods. On the technical side, we might be using Arduino, Raspberry Pie, Makey-Makey, RFID, Amazon Dash button, etc. to create simple prototypes, depending on the concepts we come up with.