My PhD research focuses on multi-user interaction in the home environment. Taking a research-trough-design approach with specific attention to people and context, I aim to identify requirements and create tools and methods to support interaction designers in taking a multi-user perspective.

I apply this research to contemporary domestic lighting systems: the combination of developments in networking technology and LED technologies, make that modern lighting systems are very different from the traditional lighting systems that most people still use at home in terms of flexibility and number of control parameters. I investigate how we can design interfaces for these systems that allow people to fully experience the benefits of individual lighting control in the multi-user home environment. In order to do so, interfaces need to fit in with people’s current experience and natural ways of coordinating lighting use amongst each other.

While flexible lighting use (allowing people to adjust the lighting to match their objectives and activities) is seen as a main advantage of modern lighting, we found that people avoid and resolve conflicts in daily life by making agreements about lighting use, resulting in very static lighting routines. Also, we found people have the tendency to not interact with the lighting because of the risk of evoking conflicts. So if we want people to make to most of modern lighting systems, people need to be informed about each other’s needs and preferences and about the impact an individual adjustment has on other users, to assure people that their interaction is socially acceptable. This socially salient information through the interface. Our future steps include designing and deploying such ‘socially translucent’ interfaces for lighting systems in the home environment.