Domestic Science: Folk Physics and Automation in the Pursuit of Home Comforts

Professor Chris Tweed
Cardiff University

28th April 2021

Widespread use of central heating in Britain's homes began in the 1950s. Since then, houses have become more sophisticated, adopting new technologies in the pursuit of greater comfort using less energy. The contemporary house often resembles a piece of equipment as much as a dwelling. New technologies demand new skills from householders, because modes of operating new homes can be counter-intuitive. As a result, developers often suggest "smart" controls and automation to address perceived "user incompetence". But before we go fully automatic, it is worth mining the wisdom of "folk physics" to see if it can make homes more effective rather than merely efficient. This talk will explore householder's everyday mental models to see if and how humans and machines can work in harmony to create more comfort with less energy.

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