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Everyday Experiments: Privacy + Trust

26.05.215 min read

Everyday Experiments is our ongoing series of digital experiments with IKEA, which challenge the role of technology in the home. It explores how we can make our devices more trustworthy and (most importantly) more fun to be around.

It aims to take the everyday and make it extraordinary.

Challenging the way we think about safety and security at home.

Home is a place where we should feel safe and secure, a sanctuary that can provide the privacy and freedom to be ourselves. We need to be able to trust who and what inhabits that space alongside us. New advanced technologies offer many exciting opportunities to create more contextual and meaningful experiences at home. But this relies on sensing, storing and using our personal information in ways that can seem opaque and leave us feeling uneasy.

How can we preserve our agency over our homes while at the same time letting our smart applications create meaningful relationships with us? With our latest instalment of Everyday Experiments, Privacy + Trust, we challenge the way we think about safety and security at home.

The Experiments

We’ve invited some of the most innovative design and technology studios in the world to help us imagine more trustworthy home technologies. Each brings their own expertise and unique vision to explore the theme, diving into topics around transparency, privacy, security and agency online (as well as in our physical spaces). The result is an array of clever ideas and intriguing digital proposals that challenge technology’s role in the home. While the experiments each sit on various planes of technological maturity, all are created with the intention to make life at home that little bit better.

What if you could use sound to create silence?

Sound Bubbles — Yuri Suzuki

Sound Bubbles by Yuri Suzuki

Now, more than ever, we find ourselves using the home for a myriad of activities. A living room becomes an office; a kitchen becomes a call centre. Such a constant presence of activity challenges our sense of privacy, not only regarding personal space, but also sound. With Sound Bubbles, experience designer Yuri Suzuki and his team set out to explore how we might be able to harness sound itself to create moments of localised silence.

Working with IoT speakers, the application would recognise the source of different sounds around you and simultaneously emit the necessary audio to cancel out the sounds. An in-app visualiser would provide visual feedback of sound sources and levels in this way, allowing you to observe silence – something which can’t usually be seen. As Suzuki explains, ‘The tension between transparency and security is at the heart of the experiment, something which has formed the basis of our visual aesthetic – a transparent bubble that engulfs and deflects unwanted sounds.’

What if the objects you own could share their entire history with you?

Chain of Traceability — FIELD.SYSTEMS

Chain of Traceability by FIELD.SYSTEMS

FIELD.SYSTEMS’ experiment Chain of Traceability takes up the task of finding new ways to comprehend the environmental impact of the objects around us. The result is something that would let you visualise product knowledge in an entirely new dimension. As FIELD.SYSTEMS explains, ‘This is a radically different way to look at products and their pasts, highlighting both achievements and areas to improve.’

It would use blockchain technology to create digital twins of everyday items — permanently storing details about their production journey, components, materials and carbon footprint for easy accessibility. Using augmented reality (AR), this information would be visualised via a playful, interactive timeline of an object’s lifespan, allowing you to scroll through an object’s entire history to better understand its environmental impact.

What if you had a companion to help you navigate the complexities of the digital world?

Digital Buddy — FIELD.SYSTEMS

Digital Buddy by FIELD.SYSTEMS

Our lives online are increasingly influenced by third parties, with the terms and conditions (T&C) of digital services emblematic of the accompanying opacity. The Digital Buddy experiment by FIELD.SYSTEMS takes on the challenge of finding new ways to navigate this digital space more safely. Their investigation would leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to create a 3D avatar that would help protect your interests online – a permanent companion to act independently of any brand or platform.

Using natural language processing (NLP), the experiment would translate the complex jargon of T&C into more understandable language and quickly highlight any privacy concerns or red flags. Through a morphing body shape and expressive exterior, Digital Buddy would convey complex information both verbally and visually, incorporating nuanced emotion and gestures. As FIELD.SYSTEMS explains, ‘In order to truly trust a Digital Buddy, we need to build a relationship with it and be able to read its virtual cues. This is why the human motion-captured movements behind our character are so important.’

What if you could see what your devices were actually getting up to?

Invisible Roommates — Nicole He + Eran Hill

Invisible Roommates by Nicole He + Eran Hill

‘As we bring more and more connected devices into our home, it’s important there is transparency about what they’re doing and what data they’re sharing,’ explains Nicole He, ‘particularly around our personal information.’ For their experiment, Invisible Roommates, Nicole He and Eran Hilleli focus on exploring how we can better understand how our devices communicate with each other and what kind of information they share in the process. It would recast the different devices connected to your network as tiny living characters, playfully demonstrating the ways in which these pieces of technology communicate with each other.

Invisible Roommates would visualise the complex data which your devices share with one another, slowing it down to a more conversational pace. Then, through the characters’ friendly movements and playful interactions, the experiment would illustrate the device’s activity, making it easier to understand what’s happening in your home. ‘We wanted to reflect the ambiguity around data by presenting the devices in a way that mirrors the joy we can get from them,’ says Hilleli, ‘but at the same time, reveal some of the invisible things that go on with and between them in real-time.’

Invisible Roommates — Nicole He + Eran Hill

Toward a more immersive technology

As we increasingly bring smart technologies into our homes, not only are they learning more about us but, simultaneously, we are learning about them. The experiments in this series all imagine how people might develop more secure and trusting relationships with their home technologies. Each experiment, in its own way, sheds light on the potential of emerging technologies to make life at home safer and more secure — while celebrating the ground-breaking technological shift offered by home computing.

Chain of Traceability — FIELD.SYSTEMS

Credits

FIELD.SYSTEMS is a creative studio in London and Berlin. As artists, designers and consultants, they explore the aesthetics of the near future and how technology changes the way we live our lives – working with code and data, moving image and interaction, sculptural and spatial experiences.

Yuri Suzuki is an experience and sound designer who works at the intersection of installation, interaction and product design. He joined Pentagram as a partner in 2018. His work encompasses sound, music, installations, product design, art direction, education and contemporary art for clients ranging from corporations to musicians to startups.

Nicole He is an independent game developer and creative technologist based in Brooklyn, New York, who previously worked at Google Creative Lab, and as an outreach lead at Kickstarter. She’s also an adjunct faculty member at ITP at NYU.

Eran Hilleli is an artist and animation director at Hornet, art director at Klang Games, Lecturer at Bezalel academy of art and design and co-founder of Iorama Studio.