designing the internet of things

supporting human values

The potential value to people of the Internet of Things (IoT) is predicted to increase dramatically over the coming decade.

One third of this value potential exists within the domain of services or benefits that involve people directly. However, people have been somewhat hesitant in adopting IoT technology and services where information about them is collected and used by these services. The integration of IoT technology into the physical world creates an interaction paradigm unfamiliar to most people.

In order for the value potential of the IoT to be realised:

  • these connected devices must become ubiquitous and pervasive;
  • large amounts of data need to be collected; and,
  • this data must be shared and combined creating knowledge about people.

These factors give rise to a number of concerns such as privacy, trust and consent, that have implications at both individual and societal level. These concerns are based in human values, the things that we consider to be important in life. These values are particular to the person, the technology and to the context of use.

If people are to accept and engage with IoT technology, that technology must support and augment the human values that are implicated by that technology. This project seeks to: investigate the human values that are implicated when people live with IoT technology in their domestic environment; explore whether there are design features of IoT technology that will support and augment these values; and, create design patterns for use at the point of creation.

two people at a bus stop in the sun

'station' by Maria Biblik, retrieved from >flickr< on 15 November 2016

“Designing technologies that understand and respect human values is an ethical responsibility, a need and a challenge for all those who are directly or indirectly involved with design” p.44

Pereira, R., Baranauskas, M. C. C., & Almeida, L. D. (2011). The value of value identification in web applications. In IADIS International Conference on WWW/ Internet (ICWI)(pp. 37–44). Retrieved from here

project aims

This project aims to explore the human values that are implicated when interacting with IoT technology in the context of a domestic environment and where the information (and value) involves connections person-to-person, person-to-business and business-to-person.

The project seeks to investigate, within this specific context:

  • how these values manifest (their meaning and components) given the design of the technology, the person’s perception of value and the influence of the specific context of use;
  • how these values are enacted in terms of the use, abuse or non-use of the technology;
  • the alignment or misalignment of the implicated human values and the ‘politics’ of the technology; and,
  • where potential value conflicts or tensions might arise between the values of all direct and indirect stakeholders in an IoT system.

This information will then be used to explore whether the design of the technology can be used to support or augment the values that are implicated by the technology. In this respect, the project aims to produce design patterns for IoT technology aimed at providing value directly to people.

shadows in the street

'Street' by Answer Wen, retrieved from >flickr< on 15 November 2016