Image credit: Thomas Hawk. Blue Denver

Designing the Social Internet of Things

A Workshop hosted at CHI 2017 - Denver 7 May 2017

What role do people have in the Internet of Things?

Compared to the impressive body of research that is currently tackling the technical issues of the Internet of Things, human-centric aspects of agency, engagement, participation, ethics, are receiving less attention.

The goal of ‘Designing the Social Internet of Things’ is to contribute to shed light on these aspects. We invite prospective participant to take a humanistic standpoint, explore people’s relations with ‘things’ first, and then build on such relations so as to support socially relevant goals of engagement, relatedness, participation, and creativity.

To participate

Submit a position paper1 of 2 to 4 pages + references in CHI Extended Abstracts Format. We invite contributions by prospective participants, both on the theory and practice of conceptualizing the Social Internet of Things. Papers will be reviewed by the organizers based on relevance and likelihood to sparkle discussion at the workshop.


  • User centred design, participatory design and design for appropriation of Internet of Things applications and devices
  • Socio-material assemblages, actor networks and agency in the IoT
  • Feminist, ethical, and critical perspectives on the IoT
  • Phenomenological accounts of interactions with objects

… and Practice

  • Internet of Things for socially relevant goals: e.g. afford independence, provide comfort, communicate prestige, preserve tradition, maintain social relation, foster creativity;
  • Unique objects for unique needs: e.g. IoT for communities of professionals, ageing people, students, users with disabilities;
  • Privacy issues/controversial experience reports from IoT scenarios, reflections on the environmental footprint of the IoT
  • Socialization around the Internet of Things: toolkits and practices for communities of makers;

Ideally, contribution should reflect on people’s relationship with ‘things’ and how those relationships can inform the design of a human-centred Internet of Things. Reflections based on interviews with third parties or on auto-ethnographic accounts will be both equally welcome. In preparation for the workshop, contributions will be hosted on the workshop’s website for everyone’s perusal. If the reflection involves one particular ‘thing’ participants will be invited to bring it along for the workshop (either the real thing or a placeholder, e.g. a toy car for one’s real car, pictures for one’s home, etc).

Important Dates

The deadline for submitting a contribution is Friday 27 January 2017

Notification will be sent to authors on Friday 10 February 2017

NOTE: Due to many requests we are extending the deadline, the new deadline is firm, no more extensions will be possible.

  • The NEW deadline for submitting a contribution is Tuesday 14 February 2017

  • Notification will be sent to authors on Tuesday 21 February 2017

(1) Note that at least one author of each accepted position paper must attend the workshop and that all participants must register for both the workshop and for at least one day of the conference.

Before the workshop:

Read the contributions of other participants as they become available. Contribute to the discussion on our Facebook group, offer your insights about how you or others use things, in what ways do they enhance people’s lives?

At the workshop:

Bring along a thing (or a placeholder, e.g. a model, a sketch, a picture) that you are keen to discuss in more depth, and be prepared to offer your insights about the contribution of other participants. We are designing a range of activities to facilitate networking and exchange of ideas.

After the workshop:

You will be invited to contribute a peer-reviewed chapter to the book ‘Social Internet of Things’ to be published by Springer.

Contact us

For all enquires and to submit a contribution


Alessandro Soro is a postdoctoral research fellow at Queensland University of Technology. His research is focused on natural interaction, including design to support social interaction and natural interfaces for special contexts, such as smart cars and interactive spaces. He is co-author of 30+ research papers and co-editor of 6 collective works gathering workshops/conference proceedings.

Margot Brereton is a professor at QUT where she leads the computer human interaction discipline and researches the participatory interaction design of ubiquitous computing technologies and their interfaces. She develops innovative designs, methods, and theoretical understandings by designing to support real user communities in selected challenging contexts. Her approach is highly iterative and often involves growing user communities as the design evolves, by understanding and responding to socio-cultural factors.

Paul Roe is a full professor in the Science and Engineering Faculty at QUT, in Brisbane Australia. His research concerns how technology can benefit environment and community, particularly for new kinds of environmental monitoring and novel interfaces which promote community access and engagement. He researches, designs, builds and evaluates novel computer systems.

Peta Wyeth is an Associate Professor at Queensland University of Technology and is at the forefront of research into emerging technology for games and other interactive experiences. She has wide-ranging experience in the application of human-computer interaction and interaction design techniques for the development of technology for education and entertainment. She builds intelligent, ubiquitous technology that children and adults can use in meaningful, engaging and appropriate ways

Daniel Johnson leads the QUT Games Research and Interaction Design Lab and is an Associate Professor in the Bachelor of Games and Interactive Entertainment. His research interests include motivations for videogame play, the player experience, the impact of videogames on wellbeing, and gamification. Over the past decade, Daniel has undertaken consultancies exploring usability, user experience and design issues in entertainment and non-leisure software.

Aloha Hufana Ambe is a PhD candidate with the CHI discipline at QUT. Her research interests are co-design of interactive technologies directed at older people.

Ann Morrison is an Associate Professor for Media Technology Section, Aalborg University, Denmark. Ann leads the Urban Vibrations Lab and designs a range of tangible solutions to enhance states of well-being, mobility, safety and social interaction for everyday circumstance, assistive care and urban environments.

Shaowen Bardzell is an Associate Professor of Informatics in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University. Known for her work in feminist HCI, Bardzell’s research explores the contributions of design, feminism, and social science to support technology’s role in social change. Recent research foci have included criticality in design, care ethics and feminist utopian perspectives on IT, and culture and creative industries in Asia.

Tuck W Leong is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney. He specialises in human-centred approaches of inquiry and technology design. Tuck’s recent research explored Participatory Design approaches to support ageing people to envision a role for the IoT in their everyday lives.

Wendy Ju is an Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Design at California College of the Arts, and Executive Director of the Center for Design Research at Stanford University. Ju uses a design research approach to investigate human interaction with automation, particularly human-robot interaction and autonomous car interface design.

Silvia Lindtner is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan in the School of Information. She researches, writes and teaches about DIY (do-it-yourself) maker culture, with a particular focus on its intersections with manufacturing and industry development in China. Drawing on her background in interaction design and media studies, she merges ethnographic methods with approaches in design and making. This allows her to provide deep insights into emerging cultures of technology production and use, from a sociological and technological perspective.

Yvonne Rogers is a Professor of Interaction Design, the director of UCLIC and a deputy head of the Computer Science department at UCL. Her research interests are in the areas of ubiquitous computing, interaction design and human-computer interaction. A central theme is how to design interactive technologies that can enhance life by augmenting and extending everyday, learning and work activities. This involves informing, building and evaluating novel user experiences through creating and assembling a diversity of pervasive technologies.

Jacob Buur is Professor of User-Centred Design at the Mads Clausen Institute for Product Innovation, University of Southern Denmark, and research director of the strategic research centre SPIRE. With 25 employees, SPIRE aims to establish the theoretical foundation for ‘Participatory Innovation’ - a new approach to user-driven innovation that expands the notion of user and includes business modeling in the user collaboration. SPIRE is cross-disciplinary, uniting researchers from design-antropology, interaction design, interaction analysis, business, innovation management and SPIRE collaborates with the theatre company Dacapo and Danish and international industries.