The History Tablecloth: Illuminating Domestic Activity
Gaver, William; Bowers, John; Boucher, Andy; Law, Andy; Pennington, Sarah and Villar, Nicholas. 2006. 'The History Tablecloth: Illuminating Domestic Activity'. In: DIS 2006. State College, Pennsylvania, United States. [Conference or Workshop Item]
Abstract or Description
The History Tablecloth is a flexible substrate screen-printed with electroluminescent material forming a grid of lace-like elements. When objects are left on the table, cells beneath them light to form a halo that grows over a period of hours, highlighting the flow of objects in the home. The Tablecloth explores an approach to design that emphasizes engaging, open-ended situations over defined utilitarian purposes. Long-term deployment of the History Tablecloth in a volunteer household revealed complex ways that people experienced and interacted with the Tablecloth. Beyond evoking reflection on the flow of objects over a particular table, the Tablecloth served as a ground for interpretative reflection about technology, an asset for social interaction, and an aesthetic object. Even behaviours we saw as system errors were interpreted by the users as interactively rich. Their experience highlights the subtlety of domestic ubiquitous computing, illustrating alternatives to traditional views of technology’s domestic role.