Discussions of the impact of technological developments often ask questions about the impact of digital innovation on how we act and think. This paper (part of a wider project and programme of work) makes the case for taking seriously how individuals appropriate new technology into their everyday lives.
The use of commercial smart home devices is growing with the increased availability of a variety of devices and their relatively low cost. These devices are used for a variety of purposes, for example energy consumption and home security, and to support activities of daily living (Soubutts et al. 2022). Here, we develop that understanding to explore how parents and their children appropriate voice assistant devices into family life as a dimension of intimacy and care, given that the landscape of care relies on a relationship infrastructure of emotions and caring practices which are often grounded in intimacy born of shared activities (e.g. Gabb and Fink 2013).
The project (funded as part of the ESRC Centre on Socio-Digital Futures) has recruited c15 households to explore their use and views on voice assistants (Amazon Alexa) in the home. In depth, longitudinal data will be collected via 1) contextual interviews with the household members (both parents and children) at the start and end of the study 2) an ‘out-of-box’ interview shortly after adoption 3) transcripts of Alexa commands 4) co-design skills session with families.