This project will be the first Australian investigation of how automated technologies are being incorporated into household practices, and the expectations they promote, sustain and transform.

  • Project dates: 2015–2018
  • Grants and Funding: ARC DECRA

Home automation technologies are expected to achieve reductions in household energy costs and consumption. However, there has been no systematic investigation of the ways in which they are being incorporated into everyday life. This three-year project will be the first Australian investigation of how automated technologies are being incorporated into household practices, and the expectations they promote, sustain and transform. The study will produce important new knowledge about how to study and understand the effects of ambient and automated technologies in everyday life and their potential impact on energy consumption.

The objectives of the project are to:

  1. Observe and analyse how automated technologies are being incorporated into Australian household social practices, and how these practices change over time;
  2. Deploy innovative ethnographic and interdisciplinary methods to identify unintended or unexpected consequences of householder interactions with automated technologies and their likely energy effects;
  3. Analyse alignments and misalignments between expectations assumed or promoted by policy makers, energy providers and automation manufacturers and the actual lived experiences of Australian householders in smart homes or using automated technologies;
  4. Contribute to theoretical and methodological debates about conceptualising the role of automation technologies in everyday life, and their implications for understandings of changing energy demand.

This research is supported under the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Early Career Researcher Award funding scheme (project number DE150100278). The project is based in the Beyond Behaviour Change Research Program, Centre for Urban Research in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University.

Image from Automating the smart home blog site

Key People

Lead researchers

Dr Yolande Strengers

Dr Yolande Strengers

Co-Convener of Beyond Behaviour Change Program

Dr Larissa Nicholls

Dr Larissa Nicholls

Research Fellow

Related Content


Can a smart home do the laundry? A panel discussion on domestic relations with smart technology

Controlling home appliances from your smartphone, remotely monitoring your property, or intelligently automating the air conditioner is now an everyday reality for many Australian householders. And with Google Home and Amazon Alexa entering the Australian market, the vision for voice-controlled smart homes is closer than ever. But how are these devices set to transform our […]

How do hospitals and other complex institutions shape energy and travel demand?

In this presentation, guest lecturer Stanley Blue from Lancaster University examines the role that large and complex institutions –like hospitals– play in shaping demand for energy and travel. The Institutional Rhythms project is based in and builds on the DEMAND Research Centre’s starting proposition that: resources like energy, travel, and goods are consumed in the […]

News & Blog

Smart home control – is the reality as bright as its promise?

A new RMIT study finds that ‘smart home’ devices may not be as bright as we thought.

Urban researchers shine at RMIT Research Awards

Three researchers from the Centre for Urban Research have been recognised by RMIT University for their outstanding research contributions and industry collaboration.

The hidden energy cost of smart homes

Light globes that change colour with the tap of an app, coffee machines you can talk to, and ovens that know exactly how long to cook your food: our homes are getting smart