The history tablecloth: Illuminating domestic activity

William Gaver*, John Bowers, Andy Boucher, Andy Law, Sarah Pennington, Nicholas Villar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


The History Tablecloth is a flexible substrate screen-printed with electroluminescent material forming a grid of lace-like elements. When objects are left on the table, cells beneath them light to form a halo that grows over a period of hours, highlighting the flow of objects in the home. The Tablecloth explores an approach to design that emphasises engaging, open-ended situations over defined utilitarian purposes. Long-term deployment of the History Tablecloth in a volunteer household revealed complex ways that people experienced and interacted with the Tablecloth. Beyond evoking reflection on the flow of objects over a particular table, the Tablecloth served as a ground for interpretative reflection about technology, an asset for social interaction, and an aesthetic object. Even behaviours we saw as system errors were interpreted by the users as interactively rich. Their experience highlights the subtlety of domestic ubiquitous computing, illustrating alternatives to traditional views of technology's domestic role.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, DIS2006
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, DIS2006 - University Park, PA, United States
Duration: 26 Jun 200628 Jun 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Conference on Designing Interactive Systems: Processes, Practices, Methods, and Techniques, DIS


ConferenceProceedings of the Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, DIS2006
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityUniversity Park, PA

Research Group keywords

  • Interaction Research Studio


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