House Memory: Designing with Traces Captured by Smart Homes


This work explores the potential value of using the enormous amount of activity traces latest ubicomp environments have started to capture. We sought to understand potential practices of using these traces in the long term through a field-based study in the United States that examines how today’s people use traces left by their predecessors in the houses where they live.

We found that our participants received, discovered, and made use of many small traces held by artifacts, people, and building materials. Those traces were used to provide practical assistance to participants’ appropriation of their houses as well as to connect participants with the past in an evocative manner. Our analysis highlights the roles played by the social context and the mutability of the house in the experience of remembering the house as well as in shaping participants’ attitudes of passing on traces of prior appropriation of the place. To illustrate the design implications of those findings, we offer three design concepts to characterize potential ways of using traces captured by ubicomp environments in the long term.


House memory: on activity traces as a form of cultural heritage
Tao Dong, Mark Newman, Mark Ackerman,
interactions 21, 5 (September 2014), 70-73

“If These Walls Could Talk:” Designing with Memories of Places
Tao Dong, Mark Ackerman, Mark Newman,
Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2014

Gaining Design Insights for the Home through Diaries, Contextual Interviews, and Remote Sensing
Tao Dong, Rayoung Young, Mark Newman, Mark Ackerman
Designing with Users for Domestic Environments Workshop, CSCW 2014