GVU Center Brown Bag, Kristin Williams: An Upcycled IoT: Creating Tomorrow's Internet of Things Out of Today's Household Possessions

Kristin Williams Photo 2023


The Internet-of-Things (IoT) promises to enhance even the most mundane of objects with computational properties. Yet, IoT has largely focused on new devices while ignoring the home’s many existing possessions. Requiring households to replace their possessions to adopt IoT yields substantial costs. Beyond financial, these include waste, work to arrange and orchestrate objects to suit households, and attention investment to acquire new skills. To address these costs, this project worked with 10 American families to design an upcycled approach to IoT that makes use of existing household possessions and then built a system responsive to these findings. The results 1) describe patterns of families’ socio-material practices, 2) develop a framework for designing lightweight modification, and 3) presents The IoT Codex—a book of programmable and inexpensive, battery-free interactive devices—to support customizing everyday objects with software and web services using stickers. The presented work offers a lightweight approach to end user programming of everyday objects for customizing IoT to suit idiosyncratic socio-material practices.

Speaker Bio:

Kristin Williams is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science in Emory University's College of Arts and Sciences. Her research focuses on making programming the Internet of Things approachable to casual end user programmers. This work builds on Kristin's longstanding interests in agency, DIY publishing, and access to information. In the past, Kristin has worked closely with community organizations to shape and evaluate assistive technologies for individuals with visual and cognitive disabilities, managed an archive of Soviet dissident literature on the political abuse of psychiatry, and created a 10+ year book project on Central Asian civil society as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan. She has a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University's Human Compter Interaction Institute, an MS in Human-Computer Interaction from both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland, College Park and a BA in Philosophy from Reed College.  She was a 2021 EECS Rising Star, an NSF EAPSI Fellow, and an AAUW Career Development Grantee.

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Schedule of Brown Bag Speakers Spring 2023