Designing smart home technologies, privacy, and ethical futures
IoT and smart home technologies like ‘smart’ fridges, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, doorbells, diverse monitors, water bottles, children’s toys, energy meters, taps, coffee machines, or home assistants such as Google Home and Alexa Echo present dichotomous images. On the one hand, once installed in the home, these technologies are intended to make life easier, safer, more comfortable, or efficient for its occupants. On the other hand, they cause anxieties about privacy, surveillance, and overall problematic consequences of the increasing presence of automated and connected technologies in domestic environments. Smart home technologies might open households to vulnerabilities such as hacking or leaking personal information collected by smart devices about movements, activities, and preferences within a household. The current design of IoT devices is based on the idea that users need to give up their personal data to enjoy the benefits that come with these technologies.
The aim of the thesis:
This thesis proposal offers an opportunity to explore radically alternative conceptions of privacy and uses of personal data in the design of new (or re-design of existing) smart home technology devices.
The students who want to work on this topic have the opportunity to collaborate closely with researchers in an ongoing Norwegian Research Council-sponsored project, RELINK, based at OsloMet. RELINK is a research project that aims to develop frameworks, tools, and scenarios that address current and future risk and safety issues related Internet of Things (IoT) in connected homes and households.
This topic is well suited for students who like to work as part of a larger group of faculty, Ph.D. students, and peers. It is also possible to collaborate with another master student(s) on this thesis proposal.