Design studio New Territory has studied how to bring empathy into smart homes

Empathic Technology is a collection of concepts to explore how IoT products could be embedded in our living spaces “in unconventional, yet meaningful ways”. 

London-based New Territory has released a set of new concepts exploring how smart home products could be designed with a novel, human-centric approach. The goal is to respond to the ever-evolving idea of home with future-focused devices and intelligent architectural fixtures that better complement our intimate relationship with our own domestic space. 

The design studio has divided its new products into three categories: Connect, Sense, and Enhance. Connect features Wedge, an omnidirectional speaker with integrated MagSafe charging for smartphones; Puck, a WiFi Booster with power bank; and Tray, a WiFi Router that looks indeed like a circular tray and sports a connective surface for induction charging. 

The Sense category is a collection of sensing devices with self-explanatory names such as Eye, Ear, Nose, Switch and Surface. Eye is a lidar unit capable of tracking movement, posture, facial cues. Ear is a rotating paddle that reacts to sonic cues. Nose is a porous foamed aluminum device that records particulates and volatile impurities in the air. New Territory has imagined them as a Pendant unit, which resembles a ceiling lamp and could be installed as such.

As the name suggests, Switch is a smart gestural switch that can be programmed to control lights and other devices while simultaneously reading biometric data from the user that touches it. 
Surface is a sort of rug that also provides a read of biometric data such as weight, gait, or posture by sensing them from the person who walks over it.

New Territory has envisioned Frame for the Enhance category. It's a smart window frame with a series of capabilities that transform a commonplace architectural fixture in a sensing device. The enhanced frame concept includes Air Slot, a think integrated system for airflow control; Blind, an integrated motorised blind for shading or blacking out a room; and Light, a built-in LED strip that augments the natural lighting coming from the window.

"We're being provocative with these objects, raising questions around the role data and empathic technology will play in our lives and homes in the not-so-distant future," says Hugo Jamson, Creative Director, NewTerritory. "With these concepts, we're exploring different colourations and textures that add a more humanistic element to the products. We wanted to make the objects feel like something consumers would be drawn to and want to touch, rather than a hard, sterile device. They're domestic in their aesthetic, smart in their functionality, and humanistic in their concept".

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