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A Smart Home With A Sense Of Humor

A group of French industrial and interactive design students from Lausanne’s ECAL school are toying with a compelling question: As our homes become more intelligent, will the machines eventually get a mind of their own?

Their experimental answer is the Delirious Home, an exhibit that opened this week at Milan Design Week. The Delirious Home, is laden with sensors and responsive gadgets to mimic the connected home of the future, but here the products aren’t simply meant to streamline your life. Instead, they offer a humorous turn on how we relate to our objects. “Technology has become smart but without a sense of humor, let alone quirky unexpected behavior,” the students write about the project.

So instead of a Nest Thermostat, there’s an analog fan that only works when you puff air into the opposite end. Instead of the Quirky Egg Minder tray, there’s the “Bonnie & Clyde,” a spoon that chases after its teacup. And instead of the Parrot, which nags you to water your plants, there are soft cacti that giggle when touched, like a Tickle Me Elmo desert plant.

By now, small sensors are affordable and easily embedded in inanimate objects, allowing ECAL’s students a range of options for bringing their imaginations to life with quirky objects like the Chiaroscuro lamp, which was inspired by Peter Pan’s shadow and requires the user to touch the lamp’s silhouette to turn it on. “We better consider this Utopian ideal as a comedy and draw inspiration from it!” reads a brochure, by way of explanation.

Delirious Home will be on display at Milan Design Week 2014 until April 13, 2014.MR