Interview with The Guardian on Internet of Things

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I recently chatted with Andy Meek at The Guardian about designer’s responsibilities in the design of IoT (Internet of Things). Here’s an excerpt from the article.

Laura Ballay, a fellow faculty member at the Human-­Computer Interaction Institute, said the project also gives a sense of how there are “so many interesting applications” when investigating the ways technology can help people within the context of a city. And yet – she also thinks one of the harder things to solve when it comes to IoT is the idea of giving people the degree of control that they want.

Most people, she says, would be overwhelmed by giving them complete granular control over everything an IoT device could do and the data it could collect, asking them for permission every step of the way. Device makers also can’t really build off assumptions about the consumer’s appetite for privacy today, since such attitudes morph a bit over time.

Data may be one of the biggest opportunities to tap via the IoT, but if it’s not handled correctly, she and others think the market won’t have enough users for it to fully take off. It’s a tricky balance, she says – figuring out what to collect, how to use it and how to appropriately inform the user.

“A lot of times technology precedes the people side of things”, Ballay said. “The technology will continue to evolve, but where it becomes interesting to me is when people enter into it and how they think technology should behave. What might have been true 20 years ago is not necessarily true today. Determining what’s right to foist on the world should be at the heart of every designer working on these projects.”

To her mind, these are not things that you can necessarily ask of end users.

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