By Leonardo Amico and Mike Shorter

You're not alone in the Smart Home.

As rent in cities continues to rise and the global population is set to reach 8.5 billion by mid-2030, co-living is an inevitable solution likely to grow more and more popular in the next few years.  

But living together comes with a number of challenges, and technology could help to manage the conflicting needs and desires of the current and future shared home. Something that present-day technology - the ultra-functional voice and app-controlled Smart Home appliances - doesn’t seem to be doing.

We conducted interviews with people from different living situations to find out how we could improve the shared home experience. What we found is that a major contributing factor to making a home a more welcoming and comfortable place is the presence of meaningful objects related to the people that live there. From this insight, came our idea of Roommate.

Roommate is an internet-connected system for the shared Smart Home. From a central hub, it detects who enters and leaves the room. Depending on who’s inside, Roommate changes the content in the digital photo frames, the music system and TV to best reflect the people in the home, identifying shared tastes and common memories.

Living with Roommate

Imagine for instance arriving home when nobody's there. As you enter the room it becomes your own: photos of you and your band performing at a gig in Paris appear on the wall; the sound system shows a selection of your jazz collection and Miles Davis starts playing “Kind of Blue” as you relax on the couch with a new book. Later, when your partner comes in, the frames change to photos of you together, the music shifts to blend your jazz tastes with her love for American folk and the TV recommends films that you both might like.

The presence of the people that are not home, communicated through their belongings and memories around the house, is also an important part of what gives life to the home. That’s why every member of the household is represented by a coloured pin on the Roommate hub. When a person’s pin is placed in the centre of the hub the content and atmosphere of the room change as if they too were in the home. So when little Jimmy misses his dad, his atmosphere can be brought into the home simply by moving the pin.

Going Ahead

Roommate could also improve the home-living scenarios outside of just families and flatshares. It could make the hosting experience more personal for Airbnb and similar services, using photos of places and music as starting points for conversations. Also, Roommate could bring a more personal feeling of comfort to traditional hotel rooms, by adding the warmth of your personal memories and content to an otherwise generic space.

We’ve created Roommate because we know the home of the future will need to focus on shared experiences. The technology we have now, of voice assistants and smartphone apps controlling appliances, is not headed in that direction. Please get in touch with us if you want to know more about Roommate or on our work about shared experiences.

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