This talk draws on an international content analysis of online and magazine articles exploring the ideas embedded in visions for the 21st Century smart home. In particular, I analyse smart home advocates’ pursuit of ‘pleasance’ – an ambient and electrically-enabled aesthetic experience which brings ‘comfort, romance and peace of mind’ into the home (Lutron 2015). Through a series of examples, such as lighting, audio-visual devices, and smart thermostats, I show how pleasance is imagined and promoted by smart home advocates. I consider where this idea has come from, what’s new about it, and what implications it holds for energy demand.
Yolande Strengers, from RMIT Australia and a regular DEMAND visitor, talked about her work on ‘smart homes’ – how they are imagined, and how they are being realised. Her research is based on an analysis of documents and images in which the idea of a smart home is being developed and also made ‘real’. While smart home visions and technologies build on previous ideas and ideals, for example of labour saving via automation and ‘intelligent’ robotic servants; other concepts focus more on relaxation, integration of control (one touch of a button), and security. Yolande used these images of smartness, along with evidence of specific product development and interviews with a selection of smart home owners (self-defined), to consider the gendered character of this framing of the future home, arguing that it is more strongly oriented towards men (technological control) than women. Other questions arose about the imagined vision of ‘home’ and of the screens, speakers, cameras and equipment associated with ‘luxury’, and about the meaning of home in relation to work – and the technologies and energy demands associated with both.
For more on this topic see the conversation article on ‘The hidden energy costs of smart homes’ written by Yolande, Janine, Mike and Larissa Nicholls
Thursday 9th June 14.00-15.00, D72/MR11 FASS, Lancaster University