Exploring the Future of Household Chores in Connected Homes

Welcome to Part 3 of our series exploring people’s relationship with their homes and the potential for future Connected Home experiences. We hope these articles will help nucleate conversation about what designers and technologists should create for Connected Homes and Neighborhoods (rather than focusing on what we can create). If you haven’t already, check out the introduction to the series here.


How can the Connected Home and Connected Neighborhoods contribute to people’s future experience of

Household Chores

Ryan McGuire / CC0

For more than a century, imaginings of the future of the home have considered how labor-saving devices will improve the lives of people at home. We are compelled by the prospect of automation of the daily tasks of maintaining our clothing and homes.

While the invention of the washing machine significantly impacted the time required for household chores, the evolution to connected washing machines hasn’t yet repeated that success. Might future appliances and devices offer another quantum leap in automated maintenance of homes?

Scrapbook — Material Saturation

This is the mess I see when I walk into my house. Probably five, six times a day I am cleaning up… Mother (Age 45)

“The worlds of the parents themselves speaks volumes about the effects of clutter and high densities of objects in their homes. Many find their accumulated possessions exhausting to contemplate, organize and clean. The visual busyness of hoards of objects can affect basic enjoyment of the home.”

— Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century, 32 Families Open Their Doors by Jeanne E. Arnold, Anthony P. Graesch, Enzo Ragazzini, Elinor Ochs

Rubbermaid Products / CC2.0
“And so that’s another thing we think about is like make sure there’s storage ’cause we have a lot of hobbies. Well ’cause he likes cars and I need like storage for like — ‘ cause I do a lot of parties. Like we like to entertain and, um, and we do a lot of outdoor activities for all seasons, like summer, winter.”

Scrapbook — Automation

“I like things to be automatic and not just thermostats. Banking and my bills and everything gets paid automatically. I don’t like to spend a lot of time having to do the routine things over and over again.”
Grant Sewell / CC2.0
“I’ve been looking lately at the Nest, which seems to learn you and eventually takes care of itself, which is what I want.”

Scrapbook — Assistance

Female:Create a product that will clean the house itself, then we will buy it.” [Laughter]
Interviewer: What if it just tells you if your house is clean or dirty?”
Female:No, that would be awful. [Laughter] No, awful.”

Honda Asimo

Honda’s Asimo robot offers a vision of a future connected system that actually can help to clean your house.

Jibo

Image via Jibo

The Jibo robot offers a different take on a household helper: less physically capable but a much better communicator. Jibo can facilitate communication and coordination among family members, and can tell stories to children.

Amazon Echo

Amazon’s Echo is intended as a voice-control interface for the internet and your connected home. Among its many features is the ability to take grocer list items by dictations. Providing this attentive, always-on service enables easy addition of items to the list during daily activity, transforming our experience of maintaining and managing our groceries.

Questions for Consideration

To inform your exploration of Household Chores in the connected home, we offer these questions for your consideration.

  1. How do people characterize chores and household tasks in their home?
  2. How might the Connected Home contribute to the work people do to create and maintain a well-functioning household?
  3. What chores and responsibilities do people want to delegate to the Connected Home? What aspects of maintaining their home do people have an attachment to, if any?

Feel free to answer and discuss here on Medium, and stay tuned for Part 4 of the series, where we will discuss Exploring the Future of Healthy Living in the Connected Home.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you want to explore any of these themes further.

About the Authors

This article is based on the work of Paula Wellings and c0-written with the help of the team at Strategy + Design. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you want to explore any of these themes further.

Paula Wellings

Paula Wellings

Paula conducts experimental and ethnographic research to fuel her design and strategy practice. She works to envision the good future where new products and services improve people’s lives.

Sandy Martinuk

Sandy Martinuk

Sandy brings a background as an engineer, scientist, and education researcher to his work in user experience design. He loves designing for wearables, IoT, and other invisible interfaces.

Derrick Snider

Derrick Snider

Derrick has 10+ years experience designing interactive experiences for mobile apps, web, and product development working with biotech, enterprise, and publishing clients. He specializes in directing agile teams to develop product solutions.

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