Smart-Its is a technology platform for creating intelligent products and environments. The size of Post-Its®, Smart-Its are small, generic, and cheap computational devices that can be used for post-hoc computational enhancement of everyday objects. Smart-Its allow objects to perceive their environment, communicate with peers, and have customizable behavior. Within this European Union research project, we applied scenario and design methods to develop new applications and user experiences facilitated by Smart-Its.

The Interactive Institute's work in Smart-Its included the projects Restaurant scenarios, Ephemeral UbiComp, myTHeme and Sonic City.

An example is the Smart-Its Restaurant, in which the technology was applied to a range of items involved in food packaging, transport, storage and preparation. Applications were developed in which individual artifacts could display their quality and lifecycle, and in which artifacts could collectively negotiate inventories, menus and prices. This application was developed as an interactive demonstrator for exhibition, in which a serving tray, refrigerator and several food items were augmented and networked. Interacting with the items in an exhibition setting triggered a series of animated movies explaining the application as well as the Smart-Its platform more generally.


Smart-Its was funded between 2000 and 2003 within the Disappearing Computer Initiative, part of the European Union’s 5th Framework Program for R&D. Project lead: Hans Gellersen (Lancaster University); Project partners: Lancaster University in the UK (Department of Computing); ETH Zurich in Switzerland (Distributed Systems and Perceptual Computing and Computer Vision groups); the Interactive Institute and Viktoria Institute in Sweden; University of Karlsruhe in Germany (Telecooperation Office); and VTT Electronics in Finland (Interactive Intelligent Electronics). Lars-Erik Holmquist (Viktoria Institute) and Ramia Mazé (Interactive Institute) were local project managers.

External homepage: