Alternate avenues for Internet of things through studying non-stereotypical homes

Design Research led by Assistant Professor Audrey Desjardins; 2017-2018
Situated co-Speculative research method to investigate non-stereotypical homes as a grounds for alternative avenues of IoT.

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The Bespoke Booklets—A method to explore non-stereotypical homes and alternate avenue for domestic internet of things

In this design research group lead by Professor Audrey Desjardins, we questioned how visions of Internet of Things could be expanded through the lens of non-stereotypical homes. We sought answers to the question of what alternative visions of domestic connected devices could be generated through designing for homes beyond the single-family, separated home. For instance, which connected devices best suit a boat house? Or a micro apartment? Or a van?


Publications

Desjardins, A., Key, C., Biggs, H. R.,& Aschenbeck, K. (2019, June). Bespoke Booklets: A Method for Situated Co-Speculation. In Proceedings of the 2019 on Designing Interactive Systems Conference (pp. 697-709). ACM.

Desjardins, A., Viny, J. E., Key, C., & Johnston, N. (2019, April). Alternative Avenues for IoT: Designing with Non-Stereotypical Homes. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (p. 351). ACM.


Methods

  • Home Visit / Interview

  • Bespoke Booklets for Co-Speculation

  • Exit interview

  • Thematic analysis

Recruitment
Drawing from our personal networks, craigslist and facebook groups, we contacted and interviewed a diverse set of people who lived in non-stereotypical homes ranging from a boat, a van, a micro apartment an eight person shared home, to a carriage house.

Home Visit
Each co-speculation started with visiting the participant at their home and conducting a tour where we took photos and asked about the purpose of each room, the history of the home, and what qualities made it unique and non-stereotypical.

Sketches of possible concepts on our pin-up wall

Crafting the Bespoke Booklet
We then created a bespoke booklet for each participant using the information and photos we gathered from their initial interview and home tour. Half of the booklet was comprised of five connected device concepts drawn directly over photographs we took which meant the concept was hyper specific to that participant’s home. One benefit of this method was that each concept was specific to each participant, thereby generating a diverse range of solutions once viewed as a collection of concepts generated for all the participants together.

For the second half of the booklet, we picked another five pictures from the home tour and interview to leave blank for the participant to sketch on. We then gave the booklet back to the participant for them to add reflections and their own sketches.

A close up a concept I created for a participant’s home and on the right, their written response.

Exit Interview
Finally, once the participant had filled our their booklet, we held an exit interview to review the participant’s responses to our concepts and review the concepts the drew over the blank photographs. Each stage of the process was meant to have an element of back-and-forth between designers. The process of co-speculation honors and values the knowledge of the participant as a type expertise. In this case, it was the knowledge of their unique home.

Thematic Analysis
Overall, we found that relationships to non-stereotypical homes and this particular form of research brought to light new ideas to think about when developing IoT or connected devices for domestic settings. Some of these are the permeability of the home, interactions with neighbors and non-human actors like animals and plants as well as how technology could probe aspirations of the non-stereotypical home owner.

Analysis of the lineages of ideas between booklets

In addition, we discovered the method was related to core feminist principles discussed by Shaowen Bardzell, Donna Haraway, and Lucy Suchman such as being situated (grounded in unique, individual, embodied experiences) partial (individual points of view), co-speculative (speculating alongside participants) and post-functional (distancing participants from needs for functionality, allowing participants to critique and play with qualities of their home through playful technologies that aren’t limited by usefulness).