Discovery IV: Internet of Worries

tldr; Report on one concern surrounding the IoT. First, identify an article as a source material (see examples below. Then develop a short case study of the concern that it exemplifies. In this case study, reflect on the concerns raised, its significance and the implications for designing IoT devices. The case study should be you haven’t seen before, are relevant to the course and you find particularly interesting. Share the example as a new Post in the #discoveries channel on Slack and bring the original source printed to class.

Due: Tuesday, 12 February 2019, 14:00pm

Outcomes: View Now


We want our objects to be enchanted, magical and to be joyful. This is our goal in designing for the Internet of Things: to make our products desirable and lovable.

There are, however, many stakeholders, actors and needs to be considered in designing for the internet of things. The different needs and value opportunities can potentially conflict with the ideal of making the best product for the end user or, indeed, in placing the best intentions of the end user firmly at heart.

When we design for the Internet of Things, we imagine a utopian scenario where objects seamlessly integrate, empower and enrich our daily experiences and routines, and through playful, subtle interaction enhance our homes, workplaces and cities by imbuing our objects with information, intelligence and awareness.

But there is a dark side to the Internet of Things (cue: Imperial March). The potential for harm when the ‘connectedness’ of internet appliances is not fully considered can be truly terrifying.

Some, but not all, of these are speculative possibilities. Nevertheless, we need to be mindful of these potential scenarios when we begin to design connected systems which have the potential to expose personal data (directly or indirectly; publicly or privately) to other stakeholders in the service network or more broadly to anyone on the internet.

This is what you’ll explore in this exercise.

Learning Objective

Having developed a shared understanding of what the internet of things is (or might be), now we’re going to explore and discover the kinds of ‘internet appliances’ available today. As part of this exercise you’re going to search for innovative connected products, and report back on what you find. Together, we’ll develop a large database of connected products to inspire our work in this course.

The goal is to broaden your understanding of the field and deepen your knowledge of prior work that’s relevant to this project and to the course. You’ll be expected to select a couple of works and report on your findings with a critical perspective.

By the end of this exercise, students will:


The examples above highlight not just that the internet of things has had many mis-steps in it’s implementation but just how thorny a space it is to design for. The articles voicing concerns and sharing incidents aren’t just cautionary tales but are resources for us to navigate the pitfalls and to reflect on our responsibilities when designing in this space.

As part of this exercise, you’re going to build on these examples and surface an incident, issue or concern reported in the popular press. Using this source article, you’ll

  1. Report a brief ‘case study’ of what occured and why it is significant;
  2. In one sentence, highlight the primary concern raised;
  3. Reflect the significance of this incident - is it an outlier event to an everyday occurance; how many people have been or could be effected; etc.
  4. Articulate what you believe it illustrates about best practices and responsibilities for designing IoT devices.

This should be a short critical reflection on the example that is about 200 words long

The article you choose should you haven’t seen before, are relevant to the topic and you find particularly interesting.

Again the emphasis here is on discovery. Explore news sites, blogs, aggregator, as well as conferences, journals and scientific papers to find exciting examples of the Internet of Things vision. This could equally be a historical example which informed the kinds of products and scenarios we encounter today, a breakthrough product which has had impact or influence, a current and state-of-the-art consumer device, a cutting edge research prototype, or a speculative proposal for a future device. There’s also no constraints on the sources or places you can look but some starting points are listed below.


No two students may submit the same example. Claim early and make sure you review each others work before posting.

Submitting your work:

Create a Post in the #discoveries channel on slack (see this guide on submitting your work for discovery exercises.

Important: Title your post with the name of the project and include the following label at the end for grading purposes “#internetofworries” e.g. My example name #internetofworries

In the post, embed a video and/or images of the project, and write a short critical reflection on the project (about 200 words) as described above.

Note: Create a separate post for each example.

Note: Follow the instructions carefully as these projects require you to follow the posting instructions to receive full grades.

Places to start looking

Wired, The Verge and FastCo all report on incidents