Speculative Design | AI


The future AI smart home Buddai increases the health and wellbeing of the users by adding valuable routines into their individual lifes and adapts to evolving needs.

Year & Context

Apr – Jul 2020
Digital Environments: Smart Home
M.A. HAWK Hildesheim
Prof. Stefan Wölwer

Team Members

Inken Alber, Interaction Design

My Role

Insights, Vision, HMW
Concept Development
UI Showcase, Visuals


We are in the year 2040 – Our artificial intelligence based smart home knows us well in this highly connected future. Routines and habits gain in importance for the personal health and wellbeing. The speculative smart home concept analyzes the individual users and supports them in implementing new personal routines in their everyday life whilst eliminating time consuming activities. The system adapts to evolving conditions by continuous learning.


Use Case: Morning meditation routine with Buddai


Smart Touchpoints


Buddai Ecosystem

We assume, that the border between smart homes and smart environments will become increasingly blurred in the future. Every user has an own Buddai at home, because every person is individually considered by the system. The Buddai service as a cloud based ecosystem in smart buildings is enabled by default and gathers data about routines and habits at home and elsewhere.




In the morning, Buddai prepares the coffee and triggers the daily meditation routine with calming music. In the living room, the smart wall displays a meditation reminder. The practise starts by sitting down on the mat. After the meditation, the user gets quantitative feedback for further motivation.


Another routine in the life of our persona is the walk after work. During her walk she gets an incoming call from her friend, who doesn't use Buddai, and wants to come over in the evening. Buddai triggers the cleaning devices to make up her apartment so she can enjoy her walking routine. She will be notified about the current cleaning status.


Process & Methods

We approached the project with the double diamond mindset and were guided by the process. With no clue how to design speculative future concepts, we started research in routines and habits, user needs as well as future concepts and the idea of artificial intelligence. We designed a future scenario that allows users to regularly execute individual routines. Our goal was to create a scenario which can be discussed by different disciplines through theses. Weekly feedback and discussions in class helped to get different point of views. Due to the pandemic, we collaborated online and organized the project with Kanban and Miro. 

Methods: Desk Research, Qualitative Interviews, Personas, Core Needs, Struggles, JTBD, Insights, Create Framework, Vision & HMW, AI, Personality, User Journey, Success Criteria, Ecosystem Map, Storyboards, Retrospectives


Project playground in Miro


Kanban Board

01 – Research

Due to the Corona Pandemic our daily habits changed rapidly. The idea was born of how to give our staying at home life more structure through new and optimized routines. We challenged ourselfes in creating a speculative design concept. We have had questions like how networked is this world and how well is the smart home getting to know me? What if our walls talk to us and remember our routines? Is this design fiction, design for debate or basically speculative?

To get an idea of how smart homes could support in personal routines and implementing habits we did desk research about sleep, owls and larks, morning routines and scientific facts about routines and habits. Qualitative interviews with four people taught us, that routines aren't same at all. We evaluated the interviews with core needs, insights, struggles and JTBD. 


Based on the Create Template from the "Digital Innovation Playbook" we identified different elements such as addressed user and needs, idea potential and value proposition. The actual problems for people are the need of external support to keep going with a routine, the lack of awareness about their own rhythm and the difficulties to live with a partner who has different priorities and habits.



Some insights from our research:

We learned…
Routines are very individual, every person even every household have their own
Therefore we should…
Make sure, that the smart home is flexible and customizable for every user

We learned…
Trigger and rewards are crucial when it comes to creating habits
Therefore we should…
Use these tools to create an effective routine and habit management

We learned…
Most people are aware of the importance and effects of daily routines, but the implementation is usually difficult
Therefore we should…
Support people in recognizing and implementing them, but not blame them

02 – Ideation

We defined our vision, how might we's and brainstormed a lot. Buddai acts like a coach and expert for routines with the personality characteristics seeing below. He behaves like a friend, but also maintains a professional distance. 

How might we ensure the individual & optimal adaptation of the AI to the user, especially when there are two users present at the same time? 
How might we ensure optimal communication with the user apart from Voice UI? 
How might we make sure, that the smart home knows the user well enough? Which and how much data do we need from the user?

Buddai is trustful, a coach, honest in a kind way, positive, sympathic, helpful and supportive, proactive


03 – Scope

Based on our scope to design along a usual weekday of a persona we developed a holistic user journey as the central part of our project. Based on to this we explained our future scenario in several levels. The challenge was to visualize a speculative idea without having much resources. We decided to use storyboards to kind of storytell our idea. 

04 – Concept Development


Buddai User Journey

User Journey
We conceived a usual working day for one of our personas with Buddai in 2040. The detailed journey and holistic explaination of our idea enables access to broader discussions. Is the Buddai scenario a world where we wanna live in? In the journey we also added the lines "AI User Knowledge" as well as "AI Fine Tuning" to figure out what the AI alreday knows about users and when the AI adapts to particular situations to improve its algorithm.

Success Criteria
We know we have a good concept when…

  • The user is aware of its own rhythm
  • The user becomes better in implementing a routine and reaches a goal
  • The measured health and wellbeing of the user increases

  • The system can differentiate between users
  • The system adapts well to the user needs
  • The system interprets the input data in the right way to give helpful output


Section of the Buddai Web Showcase


Our goal is to give people in different disciplines suggestions and thoughts to discuss our speculative design scenario. The following theses are based on own thoughts we had during the project and discussions with others. Here is a selection:

  1. A transparent AI is possible.
  2. Data from time intervals can be specifically frozen.
  3. Buddai informs you about your pregnancy.


What was going well?

  • Very good project planning using the Kanban Board and weekly collaboration meetings
  • First group discussions about the concept during our intermediate presentation
  • Reaching the milestone of completing the extensive User Journey

What was challenging?

  • First experience in creating a UX/UI concept for a speculative design project
  • Assess technical feasibility as a designer
  • Working with assumptions about technological standards in 2040

"No technological development path is discernible that would lead to a decoupled or even malicious Super AI with your own consciousness and interests. Acute danger on the other hand is threatened by people, use artificial intelligence manipulatively and oppressively against other people."


Range, 2020


Marielle Lexow
UX Designer B.A.

Say hi: marielle.lexow@gmail.com
Happy to connect on LinkedIn

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