The Internet-of-things (IoT) embeds computing in everyday objects, but has largely focused on new devices while ignoring the home's many existing possessions. We present a field study with 10 American families to understand how these possessions could be included in the smart home through upcycling. We describe three patterns for how families collaborate around home responsibilities; we explore families' mental models of home that may be in tension with existing IoT systems; and we identify ways that families can more easily imagine a smart home that includes their existing possessions. These insights can help us design an upcycled approach to IoT that supports users in reconfiguring objects (and social roles as mediated by objects) in a way that is sensitive to what will be displaced, discarded, or made obsolete. Our findings inform the design of future lightweight systems for the upcycled home.
Power blackouts (outages) are a common occurrence in Kenyan households. They affect people's livelihoods, and damage their property (household electrical items). We explore the role of GridAlert—a sensor-based technology we designed—in monitoring power blackouts. We worked with local technicians to design GridAlert's housing and integrate GridAlert with Kenya's electricity infrastructure. Then, we used interview, observation, diary, and data logging methods to understand 18 households' experiences using the system. Our findings provide insights for using sensor-based technology to monitor power usage and blackouts in Kenyan households. We also present participants' thoughts about GridAlert's housing, and about how it influenced their actions when using the system. We use these findings to discuss design insights for power monitoring systems, and to offer new perspectives on the role of technology in monitoring blackouts in Kenyan households.
This paper joins the growing body of work in postcolonial computing in HCI, and critically examines the impacts of online social media on the urban architecture in the Global South. Based on our nine-month long ethnography at eight residential areas in Dhaka, Bangladesh, this paper reports how online fame drives local users to produce digital images of their houses mimicking various Western standards, which in turn, brings changes to the organization, aesthetics, and functions of domestic spaces. This paper also describes how such digital image mediated transformations to local architecture are diminishing traditional spaces, altering their usual functions, and limiting the movement of many women inside their home. Drawing from a rich body of literature in postcolonialism, critical image theory, architecture, and Islamic feminism, we explain how these practices demonstrate a subaltern experience of using social media in the Global South. We further discuss design implications to both HCI and architecture to address these issues, and connect our findings to the broader agendas of HCI around social justice and global development.
Current research in HCI with immigrants predominantly focuses on their practical needs and little attention is given to their cultural identities. As such, we aim to understand how newcomers reflect their cultural values within domestic settings. We explore this by provoking memories immigrants associate with physical spaces inside their homes. Hence, we built "Our Home Sketcher": a paper-based home drafting tool that allows novice users to design their homes by sketching and implicitly expressing their space, light, and privacy preferences. The collected drawings are then fed into a computer algorithm that produces 3D models of the sketched houses. This process of design acts as an artifact-driven storytelling for heritage sharing and rapport building within migrant communities. We engage 13 Middle Eastern newcomers in Canada with the tool and use Halbwachs'  theory of collective memory to frame how home sketching provokes former experiences. Our findings show a strong longing for reclaiming the past, narrating space-related oral history, and designing beyond current limitations.
Information and Communication Technology interventions have the potential to improve outcomes in health and other development sectors in low-income settings. Large-scale impact, however, remains the central challenge for the HCI4D community as significant and diverse resources are typically required to scale such interventions beyond the pilot stage. In contrast, voice-based entertainment services accessible over simple phones, designed for similarly low-income, low-literate populations manage to scale 'virally' to tens of thousands of users with little to no advertising cost. Our study compares the outcomes of using voice-based entertainment to spread a maternal-health hotline against conventional advertisement channels including paper flyers, posters, radio, TV, social media and robocalls. Through an 11-week deployment in Pakistan where the hotline reached 21,770 users over 32,625 calls, we find that the entertainment service outperformed other channels on all popular user acquisition metrics, with the exception of robocalls, which lead in terms of spread.