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Department of Informatics People and Computing Lab


Why did the shades just go down?

Who turned off the light? Why did the shades just go down? How can I turn on the heating with my phone again? Interacting with advanced building technologies and experiencing automated functionalities in one’s home can be very confusing or even challenging. Cause and effect are not hardwired anymore and while certain kind of controls and feedback mechanisms can be very suitable for one person they might not be for another person - but that other person still might live in the very same house. Many homes are inhabited by a variety of people and while each of them has different capabilities and needs, all share the interest to be able to control the technologies in their home at least to some extent.

Weekview in Casalendar

We developed Casalendar to explore an interface metaphor that is more familiar to less technical inhabitants of smart homes. The common use of calendars for communication and coordination purposes in domestic homes was another reason for this choice. The basic idea of this approach is to give a smart home its own calendar, visualizing its invisible configuration for inhabitants to see, understand, change, or plan with.

Prototype evaluation

We evaluated the concept of temporal metaphors with paper prototypes and participants representing our intended target audience. In a second interation, we also tested the interactive prototype for Casalendar with HCI experts that were given user personas and representative tasks. Recently, we implemented the connection of Casalendar to smart home hardware in order to develop a functional prototype to be deployed in homes for in-the-wild studies.

Our prototype "in the wild"

We installed this prototype in two family homes. The prototoype allowed the two participating families to collect comments on the concept throughout the month-long deployment which we probed on in concluding interviews. The collected feedback allowed us to learn about the appropriateness of the calendar metaphor for smart home data as well as how the visualized information is adopted in a household's routines.


Mennicken, S., Kim, D., Huang, E.M. (2016) Integrating the Smart Home in the Digital Calendar, Full Paper to appear at CHI2016

PDF of Work in Progress Mennicken, S., Hofer, J., Dey, A., Huang, E.M. (2014) Casalendar: A Temporal Interface for Automated Homes, in Extended Proceedings CHI 2014

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