Orange Smart House


In 2001, Orange, the UK mobile network operator, announced the "Orange-at-Home" project, a smart house incorporating the latest technological wizardry within a period house, in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Intended to be more than a mere showcase, real families moved in and lived for short periods in this home. DWRC was commissioned to study how these families reacted, and to report lessons for the future development of smart homes and smart home technologies.

DWRC interviewed the families before, during and after their stays; and looked at videos of  what happened while they were in the house.

Findings from the research were not only of commercial benefit to Orange, but enabled DWRC to deepen its understanding of the social factors affecting and shaping the use of innovative technologies, whether they be in home settings or workplaces or in mobile contexts. The research illustrated the importance of addressing such questions such as:

  • Individual or collaborative? Do people want to work alone or together as a family?
  • Fit for purpose?  What it is that users want to achieve?
  • Who will be a typical user? Great grandma or 2 year old?
  • Is it simple to use, easy to learn?
  • What is needed in different rooms?
  • How can people be persuaded to trust the technology?

The bulk of research from the Orange-at-Home project remains confidential but for more information, see the chapters 1, 2 and 12 in  Inside the Smart Home, (ed Richard Harper)

  • Chapter 1: Inside the Smart Home: Ideas, Possibilities and Methods by Richard Harper
  • Chapter 2: Smart Homes: Past, Present and Future by Frances Aldrich
  • Chapter 12: Living Inside the Smart Home by Dave Randall.

Inside the Smart Home was published by Springer-Verlag UK in July 2003: ISBN: 1852336889. Paperback, 255 pages. Available from

The project was undertaken in 2001.

The Research Team

Richard Harper was the principal investigator, assisted by Dave Randall, Frances Aldrich, John Strain and Lynne Hamill.