The story of Casa Jasmina: the first automated home built to improve its residents' lives

Casa Jasmina (previously) is a groundbreaking experiment in human-centered, open source home automation, the birthplace of the Internet of Women's Things — built in Torino, Italy by Boing Boing pals Jasmina Tesanovic and Bruce Sterling with the help of the Arduino organization, Casa Jasmina pushed the boundaries of what a home-automation system would be like if it were designed to make peoples' lives better without extracting revenue from them.

In an exciting Make article, Bruce Sterling traces the origins, missteps, successes and destiny of Casa Jasmina, "a prototype Italian family home, where most objects and services are made by open source, maker-style methods" built in a derelict factory.

The maker scene excels at composing things that can be described with Instructables, recipes, and algorithms, and can then be simply constructed from flat-pack elements with numerically controlled machines. We understood that from the beginning, and wanted to get intimate with that situation, and we did. As a married couple we now excel at boldly placing our technical needs front and center in our way of life. We'll cheerfully drill holes through most anything we possess. We commonly lash things together with Bluetooth and zip ties.

But we have no maker kitchen appliances. White-goods machines are out of reach of the maker ecosystem, being too legally regulated, too complex, too hazardous to users. Plywood router-cut furniture is indeed easy to assemble, but also falls apart too easily. Plastic 3D-printed connectors are versatile, but weak and wobbly.

Maker culture is internet-centric. It has attitude problems with cherished heirlooms, local craft traditions, and unique local materials.

A hacker scene is all about Do-It-Together, but this clubby approach lacks respect for family members who don't hack, and can't or don't want to learn. Grandma in her wheelchair, baby in her crib, they get sidelined, treated as burdens rather than honored family members. Guests who confront weird open source interfaces have to stare and scratch their heads. And the Internet of Things has serious spy and security issues: it imports cyberwar and cybercrime straight into the bedroom and bathroom. Such is the Casa Jasmina real-life.

Casa Jasmina Explores the Meaning of the Maker Home of the Future
[Bruce Sterling/Make]