The patterns and routines of our domestic lives are being reimagined as intelligence makes its way into the most mundane of household objects - from lightbulbs to bathroom scales to plug sockets. Most of these smart-objects operate with invisible Interfaces, taking on an array of secondary functions and contributing to an intrictate web of behavioural data, without growing any extra screens or buttons for the user to navigate.
The allure is obvious - every smart product added into the home’s ecosystem shaves a little bit of stress and friction from daily routines. The fridge regulates its own temperature, the doorbell acts as a security system, the lights are controlled by voice command and the coffee brews itself in the morning. True to Mark Weiser’s early vision of ubiquitous computing, the user never has to engage with the complex informatics that enable these experiences to take place. Rather, things appear to just happen naturally; seamlessly.
Just as the smartphone rapidly became the conduit through which we lead our digital lives, smart-homes will likely become the operating systems we use to navigate our domestic spaces. And just as the choices we make online are conditioned by tailored advertising and social media algorithms, choices as simple as the time we wake up and what we decide to make for breakfast will become resources that companies will be able to extract for monetary value. As indicated by Amazon’s forced entry into just about every well established household appliance market, from microwaves to high-end speakers, the home is one of the most lucrative untapped data mines with endless opportunies to understand and ultimately influence our behaviours.