Why The Internet of Things Needs Object Orientated Ontology

Last week Sapienza University of Rome played host to the 12th European Academy of Design Conference themed around Design for Next. PETRAS members Prof. Paul CoultonJoseph Lindley and Rachel Cooper attended the conference to present a paper about PETRAS research based on the world’s first truly smart kettle – Polly. An output from PETRAS’s House Training the Internet of Things  project and feeding into the Adoption and Acceptability stream, this research suggests that User-Centred Design – the most ubiquitous design philosophy of today – can be problematic when applied in Internet of Things contexts.


The paper – titled Why the Internet of Things Needs Object Orientated Ontology – uses the Polly smart kettle as an example of how design could be approached differently, asking what it would mean to move away from user-centredness towards designing for constellations of equally important things? The paper describes how Object Orientated Ontology (OOO) is one philosophically grounded way to do that. Using the speculative design technique ‘Design Fiction‘, Polly’s world tests and explores how OOO could be used to augment and strengthen User-Centred Design.

You can download the paper here and view the slide deck below.