Cohousing IoT: Designing edge cases in the internet of things

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Jenkins, Thomas
DiSalvo, Carl
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Cohousing IoT is a research through design project that considers emerging domestic technologies and their relationship to alternative living arrangements, particularly cohousing communities. Cohousing is a form of semi-communal living where private homes lie around shared space. Each residence is self-sufficient, but together the community can offer social support that would otherwise be absent. Cohousing communities typically feature a common house, which may include an industrial kitchen and large dining area for common meals, large-scale laundry facilities, recreational spaces, or even a wood shop. This domestic arrangement of things makes it clear that traditional assumptions around the smart home fall flat. What would an Internet of Things look like when spread across multiple houses but only one home? Cohousing communities offer a perspective to critique existing IoT practice as well as a site for producing design work that generates site-specific alternatives. In the domestic context, what makes a “home” is an object ecology comprised of all sorts of things: plates, furniture, heating vents, entertainment devices, family members, rugs and more. Cohousing extends this notion to neighbors, shared responsibilities, and so on. This project provides a theoretical foundation for ecological design in order to create community-based domestic objects in novel ways. It describes and classifies the contemporary Internet of Things to provide as a springboard for design prototyping. Finally, it uses this ecological approach to develop speculative Internet of Things devices for cohousing communities.
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