Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 383–393 | Cite as

Homes that make us smart

  • Alex S. Taylor
  • Richard Harper
  • Laurel Swan
  • Shahram Izadi
  • Abigail Sellen
  • Mark Perry
Original Article


In this article we consider what it should mean to build “smartness” or “intelligence” into the home. We introduce an argument suggesting that it is people who imbue their homes with intelligence by continually weaving together things in their physical worlds with their everyday routines and distinct social arrangements. To develop this argument we draw on four ongoing projects concerned with designing interactive surfaces. These projects illustrate how, through the use of surfaces like fridge doors and wall displays, and even bowl shaped surfaces, we keep in touch with one another, keep the sense of our homes intact, and craft our homes as something unique and special. Intelligence, here, is seen to be something that emerges from our interactions with these surfaces—seen in the thoughtful placement of things throughout the home’s ecology of surfaces. IT for the home is thus understood less as something to be designed as intelligent and more as a resource for intelligence.


Surfaces Home Smart homes Domestic technology Ethnography Prototyping 



We are indebted to all those who participated in our field research and prototype trials. Their time, commitment and thoughts during the studies have been invaluable. Special thanks must also go to those who have worked on the design and development of the prototypes. Tim Regan and Steve Hodges played vital roles in building the initial HomeNote prototype. Tim and Steve, along with Ken Wood and Lyndsay Williams, also made substantial contributions during the ideation stage of the fridge magnet project. Lyndsay Williams continues to contribute to this project with hardware designs for several of the concepts. Rachel Eardley deserves particular thanks for her contributions to the interaction design for HomeNote, the Whereabouts clock and the fridge magnet concepts.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex S. Taylor
    • 1
  • Richard Harper
    • 1
  • Laurel Swan
    • 2
  • Shahram Izadi
    • 1
  • Abigail Sellen
    • 1
  • Mark Perry
    • 2
  1. 1.Microsoft ResearchCambridgeUK
  2. 2.School of Information Systems, Computing and MathematicsBrunel UniversityUxbridgeUK

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