IoT in the Home Demonstrator

The aim of PETRAS and BRE’s IoT in the Home Demonstrator project was to gain a deeper understanding of how people respond to and interact with internet-connected ‘smart’ devices within the home. It also explored ideas around what safeguards and fail-safe might need to be put in place to prevent or respond to technical failures and possibilities of these devices being compromised.

17 members of the public were invited to spend time in a home located at BRE’s Innovation Parkon the 19thand 20thJanuary 2019. The home was fitted out with the types of internet-connected ‘smart’ devices that are available in the market now and prototypes developed by PETRAS university partners that include possible future functionalities. 

These prototypes included the Living Room of the Future, a project led by Professor Paul Coulton at Lancaster University, an immersive and personalised media experience based on viewers’ circumstances; the Karma Kettle, led by Dr Larissa Pschetz and her team at the University of Edinburgh, a version of distributed energy systems which allows people degrees of autonomy to mediate energy supply and pricing; and the IoT Refine led by Associate Professor Max Van Kleek, at University of Oxford  which visualises where data flows, geographically and entities that are processing personal data. A key finding of these publicly attended events was that attendees found in favour of a manual (non-smart) ‘opt-in’ option when using ‘smart and connected’ domestic devices. You can see more information on these events, with further insights in the following video.

The IoT in the Home Demonstrator project identified a number of key insights:

Data use and sharing:
• There should be an international agreement to ensure appropriate collection and usage of personal data.
• Smart devices should be set by default to manual (or ‘dumb’ mode), so that users would need to activate any smart features and could manage the types and volumes of data collected.

Governance
• Citizen panels should be set up to explore and deliberate on issues concerning smart, connected and autonomous technologies, as part of the policy-making process.
• Companies and government should work together to develop legally binding standards and common protocols for devices and systems to interoperate.

Security
• There should be back-up systems and support in the case of technology failure. In these circumstances, devices and systems should be set by default to revert back to manual (rather than smart) mode.

Accessibility
• There is a need to cultivate information literacy among members of the public.
• Technologies need to be more reliable and easier to use for non-technical users.

For more information on the IoT in the Home Demonstrator project, please contact Kruakae Pothong on k.pothong@ucl.ac.uk.