Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 463–476 | Cite as

Smart homes and their users: a systematic analysis and key challenges

  • Charlie WilsonEmail author
  • Tom Hargreaves
  • Richard Hauxwell-Baldwin
Original Article


Published research on smart homes and their users is growing exponentially, yet a clear understanding of who these users are and how they might use smart home technologies is missing from a field being overwhelmingly pushed by technology developers. Through a systematic analysis of peer-reviewed literature on smart homes and their users, this paper takes stock of the dominant research themes and the linkages and disconnects between them. Key findings within each of nine themes are analysed, grouped into three: (1) views of the smart home—functional, instrumental, socio-technical; (2) users and the use of the smart home—prospective users, interactions and decisions, using technologies in the home; and (3) challenges for realising the smart home—hardware and software, design, domestication. These themes are integrated into an organising framework for future research that identifies the presence or absence of cross-cutting relationships between different understandings of smart homes and their users. The usefulness of the organising framework is illustrated in relation to two major concerns—privacy and control—that have been narrowly interpreted to date, precluding deeper insights and potential solutions. Future research on smart homes and their users can benefit by exploring and developing cross-cutting relationships between the research themes identified.


Smart homes Users Technologies Households Energy Assisted living 



Andrew May provided comments on an earlier version of this paper that led to its substantial improvement. The research was been carried out as part of the REFIT project (“Personalised Retrofit Decision Support Tools for UK Homes using Smart Home Technology”). REFIT is a consortium of three universities—Loughborough, Strathclyde and East Anglia—and ten industry stakeholders funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under the Transforming Energy Demand in Buildings through Digital Innovation (BuildTEDDI) funding programme (Grant Reference EP/K002457/1). For more information see:


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlie Wilson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tom Hargreaves
    • 1
  • Richard Hauxwell-Baldwin
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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