The Haunted House: Networking Smart Homes to Enable Casual Long-Distance Social Interactions


Despite the dominance of social networking and communications in nearly every aspect of our digital lives, little work has been done to examine the unique contributions that networked smart homes can make in the space of technologically-mediated human interaction. In this work, we introduce an application called “ghosting” that turns a smart and connected home into a socially-connected home. We show that unlike direct teleconferencing, the Internet of Things supports more subtle, ambient, and incidental exchanges that can make an environment feel co-inhabited by a person who may be many miles away. Ghosting synchronizes audio and lighting between two homes on a room-by-room basis. Microphones in each room transmit audio to the corresponding room in the other home, unifying the ambient sound domains of the two homes. For example, a user cooking in their kitchen transmits sounds out of speakers in the other user’s own kitchen. The lighting context in corresponding rooms is also synchronized. A light toggled in one house toggles the lights in the other house in real time. We claim that this system allows for casual interactions that feel natural and intimate because they share context and require less social effort than a teleconference or phone call. We describe the design points of the system and explore the successes and limitations of the ghosting user experience by implementing and deploying a ghosting application in two different settings.

Proceedings of the 2015 International Workshop on Internet of Things towards Applications
Meghan Clark
Meghan Clark
Postdoctoral Scholar

My research interests include sensor networks, radio communications, and network monitoring.