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Can our homes be ‘Smart’ enough?


How do you interact with your home?

Connected Homes
Connected Living

With the third wave of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), we have discovered a completely new ocean, where a plethora of technologies surround us. They will be a part of us sooner or later — something of first nature, as put forward in the Pyramid of Technology by Dr. Koert van Mensvoort, 2013.

Pyramid of Technology
“ Technology can become so accepted that we experience it as a vital or even a natural part of our lives ”

From Stone Age to mobile phones, technology has made its way through. We have built an entrenched relationship with technology — a relationship which is firmly established. Notwithstanding this relationship, most of do not heed how technology is introduced, accepted or discarded within our surroundings and society.

What will our future look like?

In this journey of smartphones to smart homes we have come a long way. Are we, as humans, truly building more connections with each other? Are we more in touch with people around us on social media via LinkedIn, Instagram and so forth? Are we cultivating relationships in our homes as well?

How can we build a stronger connection with our homes as organic structures driven by emotions and feelings? How can we design for smart home living?How do we interact with our homes? As mentioned by one of my peers which left me intrigued is that it’s a continuous “pushing, pulling, opening and closing of doors and windows, to find out something new.”

A few thought-provoking details caught my attention during the talk on ‘Designing for Smart Home Living’, which led to the following questions:

1. How might our homes make our daily routines better?

2. How might our homes help us live more sustainably?

3. How might our homes enhance social interaction?

4. How might our homes help us live comfortably?

Designing for Smart Homes vs Designing for Smart Home Living?

The discussion made me wonder what is the difference between Designing for Smart Homes and Designing for Smart Home living. The key distinctions come through consideration of the people within the context.

One of the most vital points here is to understand humans and hence navigate through uncertainty. This might include certain kinds of complexity around people, different kinds of families, the environment (smog, cold, cloudy, rainy, etc), various data laws such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), rate of investment of a smart home, the technology stacks and most importantly the social aspects which make a home (including surveillances, home members, and so forth.)

Data Privacy in connected homes can be a concern for many.

Smart Homes give in a way for social family data, which includes any kind of interpersonal and social data about the family and their life through the intervention of technology. It can tell the movement of people in and out of the home hence measuring the occupancy. On the other hand, much of the value lies in connected homes. It helps in detecting hazards, monitors equipment for faults, assess energy savings for daily living patterns and so forth. To maintain transparency there is a need for clear navigation of data processing, its purpose and the categories of data required to achieve those purposes. Transparency is vital to ensure a well informed consumer consent, choice and selection.

How might our homes cater to co-living spaces?

Is there a difference between smart homes and smart co-living spaces?

The relationship and connection between individuals is what matters. There is a lot more to the cement structure. A smart home can cater to a colive space in a very resourceful way, wherein people experience the space at different times in different ways according to their needs.Co-living spaces embrace digital solutions to address urban India’s housing woes like communication, spatial problems in cities like Mumbai, data privacy and so forth. It also caters to a community living combined with technological interventions.

Some interesting thoughts to ponder upon, further drawn from the talk -

“ Can we subscribe to homes?”
“How can we design for a comfortable living, which caters to human well-being?”
“ How can our homes cater to healthy relationships and care between family members and lead to a better quality of life?”
“ Can we empathise with smart homes?”

A talk, given by Ruchin Shah, Designer at Frog Design on Designing for a smart home living as a part of the Srishti ACM Student Chapter. Thanks to Srishti Institute of Art,Design and Technology,Bangalore for hosting this talk.

Reference Links :

  1. Data Privacy in connected homes
  2. What is General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR)?
  3. How technology becomes nature?
  4. What is the Technology stack required for Smart Homes?

Can our homes be ‘Smart’ enough? was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.