Tangibles and IoT for Wellbeing

When busy juggling career, family and social demands, it is all too easy to lose sight of the importance of maintaining health and wellbeing through taking breaks from and recovering after work. Given the abundance of attention-grabbing smart devices that notify us at inopportune moments, another mobile app that tells us to stop checking our phones and focus on non-work activities seems counterintuitive. Instead, a separate system such as a tangible user interface (TUI) that acts in the periphery of our attention without aggravating the information overload we are exposed to, could be the way forward. A number of TUI interventions have been designed but there is a woeful lack of evaluative research investigating the efficacy and user experience of such concepts.To start exploring this space, and in particular the role of agency when interacting with these devices, we look at the home environment.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices are slowly populating our homes, with things like Google Home, Amazon Echo, smart meters and other sensors. In this age of sharing economy and increased mobility, however, the home environment is no longer a fixed location always shared by the same people. To better understand the issues and challenges around agency and IoT use in the home, we take a pragmatic and situated approach to identify the tensions between ownership and usage, and the economic implications there might be when sharing IoT systems with trusted people vs. strangers. We suggest the distinction between owners and users should be more carefully considered in the design and research of future devices.

Publications:

Cecchinato, M.E. & Harrison, D. (2017, May). Degrees of Agency in Owners and Users of Home IoT Devices. Making Home: Asserting Agency in the Age of IoT Workshop, ACM CHI, Denver, CO.

Cecchinato, M.E., Cox, A.L., Bird, J. (2016, May). Work-Life Balance through Tangibles and the Internet of Things. Tangibles4Health Workshop, ACM CHI, San Jose, CA.