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Department of Informatics People and Computing Lab

Human Home Interaction

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.

Who turned off the lights?

In order to learn more about the challenges that occur when automating building technologies in a multi user environment we conducted a qualitative study. This study involved a variety of stakeholders like smart home professionals, people that are currently in the process of planning or buildings smart homes, and people currently living in smart homes [Mennicken and Huang 2012]. Taking into account what we learned about inhabitants’ needs within in the home, the various roles people take on and the various phases in which a smart home develops we are creating an interface that provides inhabitants with better means for the control and understanding of building technologies.

Reports and Publications


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

Ur, B., Yong Ho M.P., Brawner S., Lee, J., Mennicken S., Picard N., Schulze D., Littman, M.L. (2016) Trigger-Action Programming in the Wild: An Analysis of 200,000 IFTTT Recipes, Note to appear at CHI2016


Mennicken, S., Hwang, A., Yang, R., Hoey, J., Mihailidis, A., Huang, E.M. (2015) Smart for Life: Designing Smart Home Technologies that Evolve with Users, Workshop held at CHI2015

Aggeler, D., Juldaschewa, F., Molnár, V., Zihler, O. (2015). Integrating Personality Traits in Smart Homes. Master Project in the Department of Informatics, University of Zurich

Kocovski, F. (2015). Exploring the use of different control and feedback types in a smart home calendar interface. Bachelor Thesis in the Department of Informatics, University of Zurich


Mennicken, S., Vermeulen, J., Huang, E.M. (2014) From Today's Augmented Houses to Tomorrow's Smart Homes: New Directions for Home Automation Research, Full Paper in Proceedings UbiComp 2014

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

Cojocariu, A. (2014). Smart Home Control through the Correction of Automation Effects, Master Thesis in the Department of Informatics, University of Zurich


Brush, A.J.,Scott, J., Mennicken, S. (2013) HomeSys 2013 workshop on design, technology, systems and applications for the home, Workshop at Ubicomp 2013

Hofer, J. (2013). Improving the understanding of "smart home" information using temporal metaphors, Bachelor Thesis in the Department of Informatics, University of Zurich

Mennicken, S., Huang, E.M. (2013). Comment Cards, Home Sketches, and Family Personas. Eliciting Experiences with Home Technologies. Workshop Paper at ACM CHI 2013 presented in the Workshop on Studying Technology in the Home.

Pena, L., Sharp, R. (2013). Loxone-Calendar API. Master Project in the Department of Informatics, University of Zurich


Mennicken, S., Huang, E.M. (2012). Why Can’t I Have Both? The Tension Between Comfort and Control in Smart Homes. Workshop Paper at Pervasive 2012 presented in workshop Pervasive Intelligibility, 2nd Workshop on Intelligibility and Control in Pervasive Computing.

Mennicken, S., Huang, E.M. (2012). Hacking the Natural Habitat: An in-the-wild study of smart homes, their development and the people who live in them. Full Paper in Proceedings of Pervasive 2012, 143-160.

Tännler, S. (2012). Visualisation of Building Technologies for Passive Users (Noise Locating App). Bachelor Thesis in the Department of Informatics, University of Zurich

Mennicken, S. (2012). Merging HCI and Architecture for Better In-Building Experiences. Workshop Paper at ACM CHI 2012 presented in workshop Ar-CHI-tecture: Architecture and Interaction.

Weiterführende Informationen


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