book, editorial

Research project at London College of Communication
Tutor:  Charlotte Maeva Perret
This publication is the collection of visual experiments conducted during the third unit of MA for my major project. Each chapter is a visual experiment trying to answer the research question from different aspects: In the era of Internet of things(LoT), how to use speculative design to imagine the possible relationship between human and smart home devices? This work is accompanied by a wring book where the critical context and design decisions are elaborated. 

How are we lured into seeing technology as magic? Trying to answer that, I was gathering and categorizing slogans from websites of smart home companies such as Google Home and Apple homekit. Words by words, the ‘smart’ industry promised us a simple, smart future where we are able to put everything under control with voice and touch while privacy concern of loT is being underestimated for marketing purpose.

  1. This chapter looks at the visual potential and aesthetic sensibility. During the research, I noticed that there is a certain visual language of how products are being sold online. It is clean, minimal, smooth and perfectly rendered. But we will see opposite representation when it comes to the visual language mostly applied when contemporary designers are dealing with speculative graphic design under the topic of surveillance and transparency, which is chaotic and camouflaged. By recontextualising the images being showcased on the online store of ‘smart’ company and visual language observed from DDG and Metahaven’s practice, this experiment aims to express the biggest concern of the subject - surveillance.

  1. Can we see notification asa the portal of how devices communicate with human? Smart objects require more and more attention and interaction from human. In this sense, the notifications created by the multiplicity of mobile apps connected to the physical home space can create a new landscape of attention and decision-making with which we can distract ourselves. This experiment is to see how the future home can become another notification landscape where one simple action could trigger several devices, thus creating endless notifications.

Using writing and ‘scenario planning‘ as method, the script is narrated through dialogue between devices. It is a future where smart devices are smart enough to find connections between unusual data of human they monitor thus detect emotional crisis and come up with solutions. The script was later translated into a rough graphical sketch as a storyboard. The intention is to provide a view of this all-connected future. From their conversation, we can see how much information they know, how much influence they can have in our lives and how they work together as a system. The scenario is made only to contribute to the argument I’m getting at. You might find loopholes in it but logic is not important here. It’s all about offering a speculative view, imagining the possible, the speculative, the non-existent.

The experiment intends to explore the possibility of objects as storytellers. There are undeniable benefits to monitor and track our behaviour and routine, but human behaviour can be messy, whimsical and unintended, which might collide with the rules and order imposed on us by the smart objects that are meant to make our life easier. As we continue to build mental models for how our objects perceive the world, what kinds of stories might be told from their perspective?

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