Smart homes have generally been more successful in concept than in execution or in-home use. This problem is usually not one of technology, but of interaction and interface design. Smart home concepts have so far been designed in-house in r&d departments of large companies with very rigid use scenarios or pre-designed environments and technology infrastructures. We can build a Smart Home, but who wants to use it? And how do they use it?
The Homesense project explores how we might build our own DIY smart homes using user-led design processes and open hardware technologies. The project was launched in May 2010, sponsored by EDF R&D and supported by HighWire. 6 households from across Europe have been given their own ResearchKit of open hardware tools and training, and partnered with local technology experts. From October 2010 to January 2011 the households will design and make their own unique high tech-toys for their homes. They'll be supported by their experts who will help them figure out what they'd like to make and how to make them. As an open research project, we'll be sharing the research process as it happens.
This project brings methodologies developed in virtual environments (user-generated and remixed content, communities, data visualisations, etc.) to physical infrastructures. We believe that better scenarios will emerge if users are able to adapt easy to use and flexible tools to their specific needs, social contexts and lifestyles. Documenting these scenarios and learning from them will in turn drive better product development & innovation for relevant audiences of the Homesense project.