Signs of Appropriation: A Semiotic Account of Breakdowns with IoT Technology


  • Bruno  A. Chagas PUC-Rio
  • David F. Redmiles University of California, Irvine
  • Clarisse  S. de Souza PUC-Rio



Internet of things, IoT, appropriation, semiotic engineering, end-user development, in situ study


The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging technology powered by smart devices that increasingly populate our environment and transform our practices. Understanding how technologies are appropriated is a key asset for designing them successfully. In this paper, we present findings from an in situ study where we observed how people use and adapt commercially available smart home technology, in real practice, and over time. By using semiotic theory and thematic analysis to investigate data from diaries, questionnaires and interviews collected from a group of eleven participants, we characterized IoT appropriation as interpretive states that can evolve overtime. We also identified eight classes of appropriation breakdowns and derived two semiotic qualities for IoT technologies. We propose that, together, they have the potential to support productive decision making by IoT designers, as well as to raise new research questions on the topic.


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How to Cite

A. CHAGAS, B.; F. REDMILES, D.; S. DE SOUZA, C. Signs of Appropriation: A Semiotic Account of Breakdowns with IoT Technology. Journal on Interactive Systems, Porto Alegre, RS, v. 10, n. 2, p. 3–19, 2019. DOI: 10.5753/jis.2019.550. Disponível em: Acesso em: 1 aug. 2021.