Published research on smart homes and their users is growing exponentially, yet a clear understanding of who these users are and how they might use smart home technologies is missing from a field being overwhelmingly pushed by technology developers. Drawing on a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed literature on smart homes and their users, this paper takes stock of the dominant research themes and the linkages and disconnects between them. Key findings within each of nine themes are analysed, grouped into three: (1) views of the smart home – functional, instrumental, socio-technical; (2) users and the use of the smart home – prospective users, interactions and decisions, technologies in the home; (3) challenges for realising the smart home – hardware and software, design, domestication. The thematic analysis is integrated into an organising framework for future research that identifies the presence or absence of cross-cutting relationships between different understandings of smart homes and their users. The usefulness of the organising framework is illustrated in relation to two major concerns: privacy and control. It shows how both privacy and control have so far been interpreted and analysed narrowly within the body of smart home research, which has precluded deeper insights and potential solutions. Future research on smart homes and their users can benefit by exploring and developing cross-cutting relationships between the research themes identified.
Using smart homes: Themes, linkages, and disconnects in research on smart homes and their users. 3S Working Paper 2013-23 Norwich: Science, Society and Sustainability Research Group.(2013)