“We Just Use What They Give Us”: Understanding Passenger User Perspectives in Smart Homes

Vinay Koshy, Joon Sung Park, Ti-Chung Cheng, Karrie Karahalios
CHI: ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2021
With a plethora of off-the-shelf smart home devices available commercially, people are increasingly taking a do-it-yourself approach to configuring their smart homes. While this allows for customization, users responsible for smart home configuration often end up with more control over the devices than other household members. This separates those who introduce new functionality to the smart home (pilot users) from those who do not (passenger users). To investigate the prevalence and impact of pilot-passenger user relationships, we conducted a Mechanical Turk survey and a series of one-hour interviews. Our results suggest that pilot-passenger relationships are common in multi-user households and shape how people form habits around devices. We find from interview data that smart homes reflect the values of their pilot users, making it harder for passenger users to incorporate their devices into daily life. We conclude the paper with design recommendations to improve passenger and pilot user experience.