David Verweij

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Domestic Widgets

Domestic Widgets is a kit that allows families to create physical data visualisations using everyday materials and tools. After the cardboard design is assembled, it can be connecting to real-time data, such as the weather or seismic activity anywhere in the world. There is no soldering or coding involved. Instead, Widgets are configured using your voice through a Google Home. With this kit, I explored how we can involve and empower families in the development of future Internet of Things (IoT) products and scenarios - and especially involve more members of the household in these activities with different ages and interests.


A Domestic Widget hosts a Wi-Fi enabled microcontroller and servo motor. Every minute, this microcontroller requests instructions, which are simplified physical positions and movements based on live data streams. Users interact through a Google Home voice assistant, and choose data streams and a particular method of mapping the data to physical movements.


As part of my design-research led PhD, I fully designed and developed this toolkit. This includes the physical (product) design, hardware, software, server protocol, voice interface 'app', instruction booklets as well as the photographs displayed here. In addition, I was responsible for the setup, execution and analysis of the research activities involving the Domestic Widget's deployment.


  • Serverless back end (Cloud Functions - node.js),
  • NoSQL database (Cloud Firestore),
  • Natural language processing (Cloud Dialogflow),
  • Microcontrollers (ESP8266 - C++),
  • Prototyping (Adobe Suite, lasercutter)


Web-app demo, research paper, Domestic Widgets website, demonstration video