DAT602 – “Information and Communication Technologies and the Moral Economy of the Household”


Read the chapter “Information and Communication Technologies and the Moral Economy of the Household”, from the book Consuming Technologies. Media and Information in Domestic Spaces.

Make a blog post (300-500 words) that identifies one appropriate solution that directly responds to a certain need of the inhabitants. Include related literature references.

The Problem

One issue that many households face on an annual basis, or more frequently, is how to ensure that garden and indoor plants do not suffer due to under or over-watering when the occupants are on holiday. Whilst we can sometimes rely on neighbours to assist with outdoor watering, maintaining indoor plants is more problematic as we do not necessarily want to allow access to our homes because of security concerns.

The Solution

My proposed solution would be to make use of moisture-sensing technology such as the Sparkfun Soil Moisture Sensor  (Sparkfun, no date) to monitor moisture levels within houseplant containers. This information could be uploaded to the cloud and made available via a website/mobile application so that householders are aware of when their plants required watering. Further functionality could be included within the website/mobile application to allow remote watering of plants. Products such as Adafruit’s Plastic Water Solenoid Valve (Adafruit, no date) can be used in conjunction with internet-enabled microcontrollers to allow the a flow of water to be switched on and off.

There are both practical and security concerns with domesticating this technology. Malfunctions with a watering system connected to the main household supply could prove, at worst, damaging and expensive and, at best, result in the loss of all the occupants’ plants.

As with any IoT device, there are security risks and the potential for data breaches. With the number of IoT devices installed worldwide predicted to rise from 15.41 billion in 2015 to over 75 billion in 2025 (Statistica, 2016), security should be a concern for any enterprise offering IoT infrastructure to support end user devices.


Adafruit (no date) Plastic Water Solenoid Valve. Available at https://www.adafruit.com/product/997 (Accessed 7 January 2019).

Sparkfun (no date) Sparkfun Soil Moisture Sensor. Available at: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13322 (Accessed: 7 January 2019).

Statistica (2016) Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices installed base worldwide from 2015 to 2025 (in billions). Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/471264/iot-number-of-connected-devices-worldwide (Accessed 7 January 2019).


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