DIY in the Connected Home

Project Supervisors:  Dr Jon Rogers and Dr Nick Taylor

Project Summary:  Homes are places where people often engage in the personalised adapting of physical things. However, as the physical things in our homes become smarter—for example, Amazon’s Echo or smart thermostats—we increasingly find we have little ability to adapt them to suit our personalities or individual requirements. Although some effort has been made to support DIY in the home [1], most household connected products remain closed-source—and in many cases, owners may even be prevented from making modifications by the licensing agreements that they are required to sign up to. Incidents like the “bricking” of Revolv devices underscore how little ownership consumers truly have [2]. 

This project will explore how connected products in the home can be opened to modification and how a community can be established around home DIY for connected products. It will address the following:

  • What are the challenges and opportunities for connected products within the home that are not being met by existing commercial products and by the current trajectory of connected homes?
  • How can communities of interest be built and sustained around home DIY for connected products?
  • How can we support the inclusion of non-technical users in these communities?
  • How can commercial developers of connected products be incentivised to enable and actively support user modification?

The student will have the opportunity to collaborate with Mozilla Foundation through the Open IoT Studio, a global network run jointly with University of Dundee to envision open futures around the Internet of Things. This collaboration would revolve around the studio’s central questions: 1) How can we design contextually relevant privacy controls in IoT that are knowable, modifiable and empowering to the people using them? 2) How can locally relevant and locally produced IoT contribute to more resilient systems [3]? 

References:

[1] De Roeck, D., Slegers, K., Criel, J., Godon, M., Claeys, L., Kilpi, K. and Jacobs, A. (2012). I would DiYSE for it!: a manifesto for Do-It-Yourself Internet-of-Things creation. In Proceedings of NordiCHI 2012, ACM, 170–179.http://doi.org/10.1145/2399016.2399044 

[2] The Guardian. (2016). Revolv devices bricked as Google's Nest shuts down smart home company. https://gu.com/p/4t4nn

[3] Mozilla (2017). The Internet Health Report. https://internethealthreport.org/v01/