The Reappearing Computer: Foregrounding Privacy in IoT (REAPPEAR)


REAPPEAR prototypes new metaphors and design patterns to allow users to make informed decisions about privacy and security.

The devices and products we use are getting smarter. While many of them resemble products we have used for a long time—like speakers—they are now intelligent devices with a complex web of connections across the world. These connections make them more intelligent and useful, but also make them behave in ways that can be difficult to understand or predict. The relationship between Things and the Internet is hard to understand, which makes it difficult to know how personal data is being collected and used, or what other vulnerabilities devices might be introducing into our lives.

As computers have ‘disappeared’ into common objects, this project will ask how we might cause the computer to ‘reappear’. The project will work with end-users and industry to understand the anxieties caused by the hidden activities of consumer devices and demonstrate new design patterns for more trusted products. This might mean devices that show their connections to the wider world and help people to understand the hidden complexities behind them, or that better expose the distinction between tasks carried out on devices and those relying on a greater intelligence somewhere on the internet.