The 3 P’s in Smart Home Tech
In our study, technology users expressed a desire to care for and protect the home and its occupants. Smart cameras installed in the home allowed adults to monitor dependants – children and, increasingly, pets – while they were away.
These strategies of protection were also used in the homes of people living with disabilities. Smart technology provided safeguards against potential vulnerabilities by, for example, allowing people to remotely unlock doors for visitors, or monitor the room temperature and health of children with special needs.
A commonly identified benefit of smart home technologies was their ability to generate “small conveniences” that reduced the physical or mental effort involved in daily tasks. These efficiencies allowed householders to offload the burden of mundane activities.
Automated or voice activated lights, heating, doors or blinds became significant and normal parts of everyday life. Householders doubted whether they could live well without these conveniences once they become accustomed to the benefits.
Smart home technologies also improved productivity through coordination and multitasking. In particular, voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, freed people’s hands to do other tasks, making households feel more productive.
One research participant was living with a disability that made small everyday tasks extremely difficult and exhausting. She described productivity as a way of conserving her energy for other tasks, making smart technologies “absolutely brilliant and invaluable” for people with disabilities.
Living in a smart home and experimenting with new devices also provided considerable amounts of fun and pleasure. Smart lighting and speakers were a major source of this enjoyment, generating sensory experiences to affect ambience and mood. Automated water features also generated sensory pleasure.
We found householders created a relaxing and pleasurable home environment to replicate the experience of going on holiday or living in a resort. Home cinemas, audiovisual systems, pools, and outdoor and indoor entertainment areas were all common pursuits seeking this vacation-style pleasure.
For the predominantly male smart home initiators we interviewed, pleasure also came from implementing and “tinkering” with their smart systems. Further enjoyment ensued when sharing these smart devices and experiences, and showing them off to others.