New interdisciplinary project to promote trust by design in smart homes – THIRDI

Horizon Research Fellow Dr Jiahong Chen, along with colleagues from Brunel University London, has been awarded funding to carry out research on enhancing user experience of smart home technologies by improving design of user interfaces.

With the aim to inform user-friendly design of interfaces for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the project “Trust in Home: Rethinking Interface Design in IoT (THRIDI)” will bring together experts from various disciplines and sectors in a design workshop to explore new approaches to securing trust in smart home data sharing, and will create working groups to address the identified challenges.

“Engaging with a wide range of stakeholders has been a key theme since day one of our project development,” Dr Chen explains. “We’ve seen industry-led designs of smart home products that are poorly accessible, legible and usable for households to understand and control the use of their personal data. This has not just undermined consumer trust in domestic IoT technologies, but may also raise legal issues around the lawfulness of such potentially deceptive practices. That’s why we need to involve end-users as well as academics, industrial partners, standards groups, civil society groups and regulators at an early stage of co-designing.”

The project adds to Horizon’s continued research strength in privacy-aware smart home technologies. “Our project builds on the findings of other Horizon projects like Databox and DADA,” adds Dr Chen, “which have clearly shown the need for a paradigm shift to user-centric approaches in the IoT sector.” “THRIDI will inform and accelerate such an ongoing transformation, contributing to the delivery of UK’s digital economy strategy.”

Funded by the EPSRC Human-Data Interaction (HDI) Network+ under the “IoT, System Design and the Law” theme and organised by Dr Cigdem Sengul, Dr Arthi Manohar (Brunel) and Dr Jiahong Chen, the THRIDI design workshop is scheduled for November 2020.

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