The Hewlett-Packard Sensory Home Project


Design thinking, user experience design, collaboration, cross-disciplinary projects


In the Brigham Young University (BYU) School of Technology, we have a unique opportunity to combine art and engineering disciplines to explore a variety of industry sponsored projects. Faculty in the school believe that for students to excel in 21st century economies, cross-disciplinary team-based projects need to be performed on a regular basis. The question is how can cross-disciplinary innovation, design, and engineering curricula be integrated to provide project experiences that teach problem definition (strategic thinking), design thinking, as well as problem solving (implementation) to student teams? This research paper reports how teams of Industrial Design (ID) and Information Technology (IT) students collaborated with Hewlett-Packard (HP) on projects to explore ways to design and integrate sensors in homes that enhance the health, fitness, safety, security, and energy use of individuals and families. These HP projects were intensive, six-week learning experiences where cross-disciplinary ID/IT student teams explored and defined problems, exercised multiple design thinking methods, and validated design prototypes with users in future home settings. This paper describes the purpose, curriculum, and activities that were developed for the project. It reports feedback from the participants and shows how the HP project sponsors received the project outcomes. It also analyzes results of the projects, including how the collaboration affected the students and BYU’s School of Technology educational programs a year after its implementation.

Original Publication Citation

Howell, B., & Swan, B. (2011). The Hewlett Packard Home Sensory Project. Conference proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Design Education for Creativity and Business Innovation (E&PDE11), City University, London, England. September 8-9.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL






Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor