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Trust in home: rethinking interface design in the Internet of Things


Project description

The aim of the project is to foster collaboration within an interdisciplinary community in the area of user-friendly trust management interfaces for IoT in smart home settings.

IoT systems need to be discussed from a view of UX/UI and IoT design. A rudimentary and catch-all approach to safeguard IoT systems is through access control infrastructures, which require high levels of privacy and security expertise to administer them. This area is currently an under-research requiring interdisciplinary expertise from computer science, communications engineering, Human-Computer Interaction, user-centric design, and law. To this end, the THRIDI project fills a critical gap by using creative design approaches in eliciting understandings around the perceptions of the functions, value and ethics of IoT smart home devices among multidisciplinary stakeholders.

The project objectives include:

  1. To run an interdisciplinary two-day design workshop with a mix of experts from academia, industry, and public sector and early-career researchers, specialising in IoT, network security, privacy-enhancing technologies, user-interface design, law, and policy.
  2. Chart out new approaches to legibility, agency and negotiability for data sharing in IoT. We will investigate technical methods and standards that can support a user-centric design for building user trust. These new approaches will consider the technical, legal and business barriers and opportunities that will shape the implementation.
  3. Create working groups of suitable academic and industrial partners to focus on the open research questions identified in the workshop. We aim to develop project proposals for obtaining funding for cooperative research projects and specifically, other user-led design workshops with focus groups composed of identified stakeholder groups (i.e., elderly care groups in a smart healthcare scenario).
  4. Disseminate the output of the workshop in a report to inform the community of user-centric design methods for meaningful access control in IoT.

The starting point was a workshop held in November 2020, which represented a valuable opportunity to define the scope, approaches and priorities for future research, and also to highlight research and industry interests that can lead to further collaboration. The workshop aimed to create a free-thinking and collaborative environment, involving 25-30 participants using online collaboration and communication tools.

Following the workshop we have concluded that IoT systems in smart homes present several privacy challenges. While GDPR creates a general duty for data controllers to implement privacy by default and privacy by design, this obligation requires taking into account the state-of-the-art. However, the state-of-the-art in the smart home context is in its infancy, requiring research into building accountability and trust via the appropriate design of user interface and access control systems. One of the aims of THRIDI was to foster community discussion and collaboration among a multidisciplinary group of experts and early-career researchers in a design workshop. There was a strong sense of collegiality and lively discussions throughout the workshop, where interesting themes emerged for further research and exploration.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Cigdem Sengul - Cigdem has more than ten years of experience in research and development in mobile and wireless networks in both academia and industry. She has been working on standards for building privacy and trust in the Internet of Things during her time at Nominet as a Senior Researcher (2015-2019).  Between 2012-2015, she worked as a Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, where she lectured and conducted research on wireless and mobile networks, with a particular focus on energy and interference efficiency, and Internet of Robotic Things. From 2008-2012, she was with Telekom Innovation Labs (the main research unit of Deutsche Telekom) as a Senior Research Scientist leading projects on Wireless Mesh Networks. Her work has been published in more than 50 journal and conference publications.  She is a Fulbright, Department of Computer Science, UIUC and Vodafone fellow. Cigdem is a passionate advocate of increasing diversity awareness in computing. She is the Communication and Outreach Chair of ACM Women-Europe. She collaborates with the Micro:bit Educational Foundation to support their mission of teaching coding to school children. She is the co-author of the Networking with the Micro:bit book.