Making everyday things talk: Speculative conversations into the future of voice interfaces at home

Anuradha Reddy, A. Baki Kocaballi, Iohanna Nicenboim, Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard, Maria Luce Lupetti, Cayla Key, Chris Speed, Dan Lockton, Elisa Giaccardi, Francisca Grommé, Holly Robbins, Namrata Primlani, Paulina Yurman, Shanti Sumartojo, Thao Phan, Viktor Bedö, Yolande Strengers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


What if things had a voice? What if we could talk directly to things instead of using a mediating voice interface such as an Alexa or a Google Assistant? In this paper, we share our insights from talking to a pair of boots, a tampon, a perfume bottle, and toilet paper among other everyday things to explore their conversational capabilities. We conducted Thing Interviews using a more-than-human design approach to discover a thing’s perspectives, worldviews and its relations to other humans and nonhumans. Based on our analysis of the speculative conversations, we identified some themes characterizing the emergent qualities of people’s relationships with everyday things. We believe the themes presented in the paper may inspire future research on designing everyday things with conversational capabilities at home.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI EA '21
Subtitle of host publicationExtended Abstracts of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
EditorsYoshifumi Kitamura, Aaron Quigley, Katherine Isbister, Takeo Igarashi
ISBN (Print)9781450380959
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2021


  • thing interviews
  • conversational agents
  • voice interfaces
  • IoT
  • AI
  • more-than-human design


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  • Thing Tank

    Speed, C., Giaccardi, E. & Rubens, N.


    Project: Non-Funded Commission or Consultancy work

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