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An Upcycled IoT: Creating Tomorrow’s Internet of Things Out of Today’s Household Possessions

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posted on 18.11.2022, 15:07 authored by Kristin WilliamsKristin Williams

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 creates substantial waste. This includes increasing artifacts diverted to the waste stream, as well as eroding agency, individual identities, values, and ways of life. To enable an alternative approach, this dissertation shows how IoT could augment existing household possessions rather than replace them. To do so, it 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) developed techniques to enable existing possessions to be transformed with IoT services, 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.


CIF:Small: Covariance Arbitrage: Unlocking the Full Value of Correlation Diversity in Multiuser Wireless Networks

Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering

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Degree Type



Human-Computer Interaction Institute

Degree Name

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Scott Hudson Jessica Hammer