Supporting the serendipitous use of domestic technologies Articles uri icon

publication date

  • April 2016

start page

  • 16

end page

  • 25


  • 2


  • 15

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1536-1268

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1558-2590


  • The authors present an iterative design exploration to support serendipitous uses of technology: quick reconfigurations of the domestic environment to address inhabitants' current needs, whether they are transient and ephemeral or more habitual. As a result of this exploration, the authors developed T4Tags 2.0, an open-ended toolkit for programming Web-connected and versatile physical tokens embedded with different sensing technologies (including near field communication, physical buttons, and motion and environmental sensors) and can be easily integrated with existing artifacts. The design of the toolkit was informed by fieldwork that provided design drivers for domestic technologies that can be repurposed or appropriated through features such as end-user programming of device behavior and crowd-fueled appropriation by sharing "recipes" of programmed tokens. A user study with three families provides insights into system usefulness and the recipe-sharing functionality. The authors also discuss opportunities and challenges, reflecting on the tradeoffs of an open system in terms of user engagement, creative input, and real-world deployment. This article is part of a special issue on domestic pervasive computing.


  • pervasive computing; domestic technology; end-user programming; toolkit; condition-action programming; internet of things; internet/web technologies; mobile