Uninvited Guests is an elderly man’s battle with smart technology

Superflux’s short film Uninvited Guests looks at the frictions that can arise as technology evolves.

As the physical objects in our home become smarter, what relationships do we form with them? What role does human agency play in a world where mundane objects and environments begin to gain a level of agency and autonomy? How do smart devices influence the routine of our lives? Are these devices we want a hindrance or an advantage? In the short film titled Uninvited Guests, London-based design agency Superflux explores these questions through the life of 70-year-old Thomas. Living by himself, Thomas’s children send him smart devices to track and monitor his diet, health and sleep from a distance.

Elderly healthcare and remote tracking are touted as one of the most compelling IoT applications. While there are undeniable benefits to the remote tracking of the old or sick, the project explores the tensions that might arise when objects are given a new level of agency and are expected to interpret the needs of the user.

What are the messy, whimsical, unintended human behaviours that might collide with the one-size-fits-all ‘care' that many smart devices are designed to deliver?

The brightly coloured “smart objects” in the film are designed to appear as placeholders, where you might "insert smart object here".

“Ultimately it is our intention that this, at times comedic story, plays on and gives form to some of the growing tensions between human and machine agency. And in doing so, provoke questions about how we want to live and to grow old in an increasingly technologically mediated word,” writes Superflux.

The film was commissioned by ThingTank, a research consortium exploring new territories in the domestic space.

More on design for the elderly: 

FrailTea analyses kettle grip data to monitor the health of the elderly

UK student designs a gardening tool to help the elderly

Bare Technology uses E-waste to make accessible computers 

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