New series: Understanding the Connected Home

Ever since visiting Casa Jasmina one question we discussed there wouldn’t leave me alone – there literally hasn’t been a day where the topic hasn’t come up, where I haven’t been trying to get closer to figuring out answers, or at least better questions: How do we interact with a connected home? How does the space, and the things in it, communicate what’s expected of the person, what the ground rules are, what requires interaction and what doesn’t? How, in other word, do we know how connected a home is, and in which way?

Over the weekend at Foocamp, I asked many people for their thoughts on the topic, all of whom are smarter than I and many of whom have a great deal of experience in related matters. From interaction design to artificial intelligence researcher to chip engineer to journalist: Both in a session I hosted about the topic and in many hallway conversations it slowly emerged that it’s an area that might just not be fully explored yet.

And yet, we know that connectivity increasingly sneaks into our living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. Into our smoke detectors, lights, door locks, kitchen scales and ovens. We bring in more connectivity through fitness tracking wristbands and our phones and tablets, and take it along when we get into the driving computers that are our cars.

Understanding the connected home and the decisions that go into designing it, as well as its impact on our living with it, will be essential for all of us.

Casa Jasmina, the open source connected home of the future that the Arduino crew is exploring with Jasmina Tesanovic and Bruce Sterling is a ground breaking lab for exactly these questions, and I’m very grateful I got to experience it so early on.

Starting with this blog post, I plan to explore various aspects of the connected home as well as a large number of questions in a new series.

Understanding the Connected Home is an ongoing series that explores the questions, challenges and opportunities around increasingly connected homes. (Show all posts on this blog.). Update: As of Sept 2015, we turned it into a larger research project and book at


I’m so jealous I couldn’t be at foocamp this year, it sounded fascinating. I’ve been twice before and each time was very engaging.

I’m happy to help/join your conversation. I’m a UX designer and have written about the UX issues of the smart home (and iot in general) at my blog. The biggest issue isn’t that we are capable of doing these things, but the deeper issue of what we would like the home to do. For example, i’m deeply under impressed with the “wake up to coffee” scenario, it just doesn’t have any real value (and is likely to fail a high percentage of the time)

I’m a big fan of Englebart who pushed for augmentation, not automation. I feel there is a much to discuss/learn from this distinction. Looking forward to following your posts on this issue


Thanks for reaching out – yes, augmentation is certainly the much more interesting field to explore. Automation and personalization seem like awfully low-hanging fruit to be honest…