The DW toolkit, consisting out of a Google Home, some perforated cardboard, a motor and microcontroller.

Domestic Widgets

As part of my PhD, I am looking into research methods to involve and empower families in the development of future Internet of Things (IoT) products and scenarios. Over the last decade(s), a growth of tools, platforms and consumer products has lowered the threshold to get involved in Do-It-Yourself (DIY) practises. Whilst self-built (or at least assembled) connected products are becoming more common, not all members of a household are necessarily involved – or interested for that matter. By leveraging the household creativity of existing activities, such as tinkering and crafting with household materials, we aim to involve all members of the household in these activities.

The Domestic Widgets toolkit enables households to craft and tinker with household materials, and bring them ‘alive’ using a minimal amount of components. Using speech-based interaction (currently the Google Home), the behaviour of the components can be discussed through conversation. As such, no coding or soldering is required – and the transparent vocal interaction can quickly be picked up by all household members.

Through both public engagements (e.g. Maker Faire UK), workshops and deployments, this project explores the (latent) needs and values within the complex ecology that we call home.

Resources

The code is currently not yet publically available. The following pictures show the currently implemented architecture.

Tools used

  • Google Cloud Firestore, Dialogflow
  • Node.js & Javascript
  • Arduino (C++)
  • Lasercutter

Related Publications

  • A full paper about the design of the toolkit at the 2018 RTD Conference. See here.
  • My extended abstract submission for the CHI 2019 Doctoral Consortium, elaborating on my PhD. See here.

Links

Visit the project’s website, or check the entry in the ACM Interactions ‘demo hour’, see here.