A plethora of everyday objects powered by internet connectivity are rapidly becoming a larger part of society as each day goes by (Forbes Technology Council, 2016). With this emergence of the next generation of internet-connected devices, terms like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), as well as wearables, have once again risen to the surface, and are no longer merely associated with the imaginary world of science fiction – they’re good business (Eyal, 2016).
In late 2009 and 2010, Facebook made the decision to make a large portion of users’ profile information available to the public by default, causing a huge backlash, as well as bringing the topic of online privacy and security to the foreground (Rogers, Sharp, & Preece, 2012). According to Fjord (2016), privacy and security concerns are now so considerable, that one half of American internet users are no longer performing basic tasks like posting on social networks and purchasing online.
Now that the general public has become more aware, what does the advent of these emerging technologies and trends have on considerations like privacy and security? As well as this, what is the potential impact that these areas could have on user experience (UX) design, business, and engineering processes in the coming years? This blog post aims to explore some of these concerns in detail.
AR and the Internet of Things (IoT)
The proliferation of internet-connected devices into everyday activities and contexts (Morville, Arango, & Rosenfeld, 2015) has the number of IoT devices, such as internet-connected refrigerators, personal trainer substitutes, and smart mirrors (Kim, 2016), projected to be at 24 billion by 2020 (Meola, 2016), meaning that it’s anticipated by then that there will at least two to three IoT devices for every person on the planet (Jensen, 2017).
With all of the conveniences that IoT brings, it can be argued that it’s somewhat excessive, unnecessary (Case, 2016), and even dangerous, with a variety of news headlines that have illustrated these opinions – Most alarmingly that internet-connected and self-driving motor vehicles are still prone to life-threatening security vulnerabilities (Muoio, 2016), along with the more recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack using IoT devices like baby monitors and printers which resulted in outages for more than 1,200 websites including Airbnb, Amazon, and Twitter, among many other frequently-accessed areas of the internet (O’Dwyer, 2016).
As a result of these incidents, it’s predicted that IoT manufacturers and service providers will plan on taking IoT privacy and security more seriously in the coming year (see Figure 1 below), as no company wants to make news headlines for a security vulnerability that leads to a serious data breach (Margaris, 2016).
This culture of privacy and security hysteria and paranoia can leave a long-lasting negative imprint on software companies – Niantic, Inc., the company behind Pokémon Go (see Figure 2), found themselves under fire after a poor permissions implementation sparked rumours that the application granted the company full access to end users’ Google accounts (Olivarez-Giles, 2016), despite these claims being completely unfounded (Blue, 2016).
Privacy and Security by Design
It’s incidents such as the above that have scared vendors into taking both privacy and security more seriously, instead of it once merely being an afterthought (Muoio, 2016). This has ultimately lead to an increased focus on the already well-established concepts of privacy and security by design (Gaillard, 2016) – Companies such as Apple both understand and tap into the growing consumer concerns about privacy as well as this newfound awareness of corporate and government surveillance, and incorporate these principles into their design process by discovering how their products are used by their end users while still protecting individual privacy (Forbes Technology Council, 2016).
It’s starting to become clear that design work is no longer just incidental and can have a huge impact on both people’s lives and greater transformations in society (uxdesign.cc, 2016). With this in mind, Buckley (2016) states that:
Engendering the feeling of trust in a product is among the chief roles of any good UX designer
These concepts are especially crucial when applicable to the world of AI and chatbots, where companies like Babylon Health have developed a triage solution to answer any patient questions before speaking with a doctor – In order to grow the acceptance and infrastructure of their AI services, companies may require access to confidential user information, making it vital that the user has trust and confidence that their personal data is in safe hands (Fjord, 2016).
In order to take a privacy and security by design approach, it’s important to clearly gather, understand, and prioritise as many privacy and security requirements that are viable, as soon as possible (Cordell, 2015) – Incorporating it into the design process early opens up the possibility of the requirements changing as knowledge of the problem area increases and the solution is envisioned, and as nothing has been implemented, it is far cheaper and easier to devise and evaluate solutions (Gothelf & Seiden, 2013).
In the case of IBM’s security division, it had been found that radical collaboration could assist in bringing together interdisciplinary designers with subject matter experts from different backgrounds and expertise, to solve some of the most complex and pressing security threats today (Segran, 2015).
According to Chris Young of Intel Security, the key to effectively designing for such complex and data-intensive realms like privacy and security is to simplify it, while still empowering end users with the ability to make intelligent decisions (Segran, 2015) – Current techniques like CAPTCHAs, passwords, and security questions all leave a lot to be desired (Lazar, Feng, & Hochheiser, 2009), so the expertise of UX designers can be leveraged to catapult traditionally clunky enterprise software to the same standards as UX as consumer-grade applications like Uber (see Figure 4 below), who have managed to keep the original simplicity and speed of their product despite it becoming more complex over time (Hilhorst, 2016).
With the convergence of AI, AR, IoT, and the threats that come with them, many organisations are now beginning to realise that privacy and security of their end user’s personal information is something that has to be taken seriously (Gaillard, 2016). As turn of events has now lead to internet-users becoming extra conscious of their privacy and security online, involving these areas from the very beginning of the design process and treating it with the same care as other UX considerations can ensure that customers will remain at ease and continue to use products confidently.
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