Privacy Itch and Scratch


Use case for on-body privacy awareness and control
Ubiquitous computing technologies are being used to collect, process and share increasing amounts of personal information, from our location and physical activity levels to the things we buy and the web pages we read.  Although these developments have created a wealth of new applications that engage and entertain us, they also pose significant challenges for our privacy - particularly the challenge of maintaining awareness and control over our personal information flows as we go about our daily lives.

My colleagues, Vikram Mehta, Blaine Price and Bashar Nuseibeh, and I have been exploring new interaction metaphors for enhancing our privacy awareness and control.  Our earlier work in this area used haptic interactions through the users' smartphone to enable privacy controls to be configured by physically shaking and moving the device (PrivacyShake).   More recently we have been exploring the role of on-body interfaces to achieve more subtle and non-intrusive mechanisms for privacy awareness and control, through the metaphor of privacy itch and privacy scratch.   We have created a prototype wearable device, called the PrivacyBand that realises this metaphor using a combination of vibration actuators and pressure sensors.  The cartoon above presents a potential use case scenario for this technology.

This research was recently presented in the "Late Breaking Work" track of CHI 2016 earlier in May 2016.  You can read the associated paper at:

Mehta, Vikram; Bandara, Arosha; Price, Blaine and Nuseibeh, Bashar (2016). Privacy Itch and Scratch:
 On Body Privacy Warnings and Controls. In: ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, San Jose, 34.

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