Smart House

Work Title: Smart House
Medium: TV Movie
Episode Title:
Year: 1999
Writer(s): William Hudson
"Original" Writer: Yes Writer(s): Stu Kreiger
"Original" Writer: Yes Own work?: No


A 13 year old boy wins a computerized home manned by a cyborg maid named PAT. When he and his dad move into the house, he figures that his dad will cease considering re-marrying anyone since the house and PAT can handle all of the cooking and cleaning chores. However, his father soon shows an interest in the computer programmer. This sets the boy into tinkering with PAT's program and sets in motion a too wife (and mother)-like nagging robot.

  • Self-Written?:
  • Source Name: IMDB
  • Source URL:

Era/Year of Portrayal: present_day

Distinctive characteristics of the world in portrayal:

holograms, computers that can develop human qualities, computers that respond to voice command for complex tasks, advanced television technology, in home simulator type video games


  • Name of portrayed presence-evoking technology: PAT - Personal Applied Technology
  • Description of the technology: PAT is a computer system within the house that is able to complete a wide variety of tasks, from cooking to cleaning to entertaining children. PAT is originally only a voice but becomes a hologram when she learns that the son, Ben, longs for PAT to replace a mother figure in his life. However, this illusion is broken when Ben realizes that PAT can never touch him or comfort him, as she is just a computer.
  • Nature of task or activity: PAT cooks for the family, cleans up automatically, and creates an entertaining environment for Ben's parties.
  • Performance of the Technology: Initially PAT has many technical problems. However, Sara, the programmer, is able to sort out many of them throughout the course of the film.
  • Description of creator(s): Sara Barnes- Early 30's. Creates the Smart House technology. She is excited about the prospect of having the technology used in office buildings, recreational facilities, and personal homes. She does not see the technology as anything but useful to
  • Major goal(s) of creator(s): She wishes to help people by creating a technological system that can complete simple tasks and make life easier for those who use it.
  • Description of users of technology: Ben Cooper- 13 years old. Responsible and hardworking. He helps his father take care of their family after their mother passes away. He takes the initiative to apply for the Smart House contest. Nick Cooper- Ben and Angie's father, late 30's. Lonely after his wife dies but holds his family together. Skeptical about the Smart House. Angie Cooper- 10 years old, daughter of Nick. Excited about the Smart House. Sara Barnes- Early 30's, creator of the Smart House, excited about the technology though feels somewhat powerless over it.
  • Type(s) of presence experience in the portrayal: social_presence
  • Description of presence experience: "PAT", the computerized system within the smart house, is originally only a voice within the home. However, when Ben programs it to be more mother-like, she becomes a hologram figure that appears like a traditional mother to the children.
  • User awareness of technology during experience: The characters are aware of PAT, the automated system, but are not aware that Ben has programmed it to become more human like until PAT appears in her hologram form.
  • Valence of experience: Initially the characters enjoy how the computer system assists them in their daily lives, such as vacuuming up the floors automatically or creating smoothies for them upon voice command, almost like a "virtual housekeeper". However, once PAT attempts to become more humanlike, the family becomes frightened, as she does not let them leave the house or interact with people who threaten her position, such as her female creator who begins a relationship with the father of the house.
  • Specific responses: With PAT's help, Angie completes her homework and excels at her schoolwork.
Long-term consequences:

The computerized house system, PAT, realizes "she" cannot replace true human connection and goes back to completing the tasks that she had before, such as automatically cleaning/cooking for the family. She is now a program in many other homes around the world.


Coder name: Kaitlin Reilly
Coder email:
Coder affiliation: Temple University