Living with Difference in the Connected Home

A VIRT-EU Design Challenge

For years we have heard that the ‘smart home’ is coming, using connected devices to transform everyday life.

Personal assistants, remotely-triggered thermostats, responsive lighting and cooking, cleaning and food preparation apps and services promise to make our individual lives better by personalising aspects of the environments and information around us.

While this personalisation happens, another important trend changes what home is and who is there. Younger people live longer with their parents, or return to their homes after study. People of all ages experiment with collaborative living and share spaces and experiences. Families change shape, and some people at home need extra care to accommodate age, illness or different abilities.

These issues of difference and care challenge the idea that connected systems are just for personal use. We share our space, our information and our devices in complex ways, even as we simply try to get through ‘ordinary life at home’. How might connected Internet of Things (IoT) systems and products enter into and change communal spaces of home?

Join the Design Challenge

The design challenge is now closed. You can still read the details of the design brief.

What we're looking for

We're looking for concepts that speak to the question of…

"How might we use connected Internet of Things systems and products to re-imagine collaborative and communal living that is sensitive to differences between members of these living spaces?"

In particular, we want submissions which are…

  • Early stage designs that use connected IoT systems and products to explore new ways of living together
  • Ideas about how to balance personalisation, privacy, and the experience with the interests and preferences of different people who live together
  • Creative interventions in using connected devices to provide for life together, not only as individuals

How the Design Challenge Works

The Design Challenge is now closed to new entries.

The Design Challenge has two rounds.

Round 1

Deadline: rolling until June 24th

Submit your “napkin sketch” - very early sketch and description of your idea

Round 2

Deadline: June 24th

Selected applicants from Round 1 are given beta tools to support their concept development and are invited to submit full materials of technical diagram, user storyboard and business plan

We will consider all of the concepts submitted within the deadline and evaluate them.

On or before June 27th we will announce the finalists who will be invited present their concept at the final VIRT-EU design challenge event as part of ORGCon on 13 July 2019 in London.

ORGCon is Open Rights Group's conference in London.

The selected concepts will be the ones that best answer the Challenge question and have the most potential for impact

Join the Design Challenge

The design challenge is now closed. You can still read the details of the design brief.


One winning team will win £1,200 and one runner-up team will win £750.

At least one team member must attend the VIRT-EU Design Challenge event on July 13th in London conducted as part of ORGCon 2019. Limited travel support is available.

They will present their concept to the ORGCon conference on Saturday 13 July, where they will also receive one hour of 1-to-1 mentoring from an IoT industry leader.

The Judges

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Twitter: @iotwatch

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino is an interaction designer, product designer, entrepreneur based in London.

She was named 1st in a list of 100 Internet of Things Influencers (Postscapes, 2016), 2nd in Top 100 Internet of Things Thought Leaders (Onalytica, 2014) and in the Top 100 Influential Tech Women on Twitter (Business Insider, 2014), Smith & Williamson Power 100 (2017).

Rob van Kranenburg

Twitter: @robvank

Rob van Kranenburg is the Founder of Council_IoT and #iotday

He wrote The Internet of Things. A critique of ambient technology and the all-seeing network of RFID, Network Notebooks 02, Institute of Network Cultures. He is co-founder of bricolabs. Together with Christian Nold he published Situated Technologies Pamphlets 8: The Internet of People for a Post-Oil World. Rob is co-editor of Enabling Things to Talk Designing IoT solutions with the IoT Architectural Reference Model, Springer Open Access. He works as Ecosystem Manager for the EU projects Tagitsmart and Next Generation Internet.

He is a DeTao Master IoT.

Dawn Nafus

Twitter: @dawnnafus

Dawn Nafus is a senior research scientist at Intel Labs, where she conducts anthropological research to inform new product development and strategy.

Her research interest include cultures of quantification, health and environmental sensing, and digital methods. She is the editor of Quantified: Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life (MIT Press, 2016), co-author of Self Tracking (MIT Press 2016) and co-editor of Ethnography for a Data-Saturated World (Manchester University Press, 2018).

Simone Rebaudengo

Twitter: @fishandchipsing

Simone is a product and interaction designer based in Shanghai, where he works with international clients and institutions like BMW, Philips, Google Creative Labs and the Dubai’s Museum of the Future. His work focuses on building experiential versions of the future and exploring the implications of living and interacting with networked, smart and autonomous things.

Get in touch

If you have any questions, send us an email to


VIRT-EU is a consortium of international organisations and universities seeking to understand how the Internet of Things (IoT) designers and developers enact ethics in practice in order to develop tools to support reflection on ethics, data and privacy throughout the development process. Partners include IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, Uppsala University, Politecnico di Torino, London School of Economics and Open Rights Group.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 732027.

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