Woods publishes new book based on research about smart home technology

May 17, 2024

Threshold by Heather Suzanne WoodsHeather Suzanne Woods, a communication and technology scholar and director of the A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communication at Kansas State University, has published a new book, THRESHOLD: How Smart Homes Change Us Inside and Out. This book provides an urgent and cautionary examination of the pervasive influence of smart home technology on the lives of those who live in them — and those who don't.

“Smart homes have become increasingly popular, and they come with promises of increased efficiency, health, and leisure time,” said Woods. “However, the convenience of these networked technologies comes with significant costs. Smart homes often trade convenience for privacy, and ease for a few privileged users for the safety and security of the majority.”

Woods, in her comprehensive research in smart homes throughout the United States, delves into the origins of smart homes, predicts their future trajectory, and questions whether a home can be too smart. She exposes the technology behind smart homes, probes who is in control, and reveals how smart homes incentivize ubiquitous computing as a daily practice, conditioning occupants for a transactional existence largely controlled by corporate interests. Woods' research proposes a dynamic cultural framework for understanding smart homes, considering sociotechnical variables such as gender, class, income, race and criminal justice.

THRESHOLD: How Smart Homes Change Us Inside and Out is a critical assessment of smart technologies that empowers smart home users to make informed decisions about their dwellings.

Woods' analysis of smart homes offers a novel theory of "living in digitality," explaining the cultural state of constant use and reliance on technology.

THRESHOLD: How Smart Homes Change Us Inside and Out has been featured in leading international news and culture outlets, including The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, CBC Spark, and more. It is now available for purchase in paperback, hardcover, and eBook format in all major bookstores. The book will soon be available in audiobook format.