Portals to the World: Technological Extensions to the Boundaries of the Home

Ewart, Ian and Luck, Rachael (2012). Portals to the World: Technological Extensions to the Boundaries of the Home. Interiors, 3(1-2) pp. 7–22.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2752/204191212x13232577462457


This article examines the ways that technological objects inside the home are viewed and productively used by a group of older people to extend their access to environments beyond the home. Beginning with a discussion of types of domestic object, we highlight appliances and gadgets, and focus our attentions on the latter. The changes in life brought on by aging, in particular a reduction in mobility, provide the context for our study, in which access to the outside world becomes increasingly difficult. Recognizing their changing circumstances led our participants to engage actively and selectively with these objects, mitigating the shrinking of their accessible environment by using them as a gateway to the many virtual worlds now available. We coin the term “portal objects” to describe the potential that this type of technological object provides, and suggest that the investigation of interiors can be enriched by recognizing and including the worlds outside that become integral to occupation inside.

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