We found that cameras that can extend and retract out of a device were noticeable and understandable to participants. People intuitively understood that the presence of a sensor to indicate that the camera is ready to record, but not necessarily recording. We learned that a light for a pop-up camera is still necessary for the user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
DO
- We found that cameras that can extend
- The user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
DON'T
- We found that cameras that can extend
- The user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
- We found that cameras that can extend
- The user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
CONSIDER
- We found that cameras that can extend
- The user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
Fundamentals
When to use visual sensors
Borrowing existing feedback methods can improve the understanding of feedback
Light is an existing, pervasive method of providing feedback that a sensor is recording information. Light is an existing, pervasive method of providing feedback that a sensor is recording information.
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
It is particularly used to communicate that visual and auditory information is being collected. People seemed to prefer this existing language/feedback method for cameras as they don't need to learn something new.
Feedback
When to provide feedback
Having a visual sensor that pops-up out of a device is particularly useful for discrete use cases
Having a visual sensor that pops-up out is particularly useful for devices like a video conferencing on a TV (not capturing video with a security camera).
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
We found that cameras that can extend and retract out of a device were noticeable and understandable to participants. People intuitively understood that the presence of a sensor to indicate that the camera is ready to record, but not necessarily recording. We learned that a light for a pop-up camera is still necessary for the user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
Borrowing existing feedback methods can improve the understanding of feedback
Light is an existing pervasive method of providing feedback that a sensor is recording information. Light is an existing pervasive method of providing feedback.
Justification
People are accustomed to seeing lights next to cameras, and so their mental models matches.
How to provide feedback
Having a visual sensor that pops-up out of a device is particularly useful for devices that support discrete use cases, like a video conferencing on a TV.
Having a visual sensor that pops-up out is particularly useful for devices like a video conferencing on a TV (not capturing video with a security camera).
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
We found that cameras that can extend and retract out of a device were noticeable and understandable to participants. People intuitively understood that the presence of a sensor to indicate that the camera is ready to record, but not necessarily recording. We learned that a light for a pop-up camera is still necessary for the user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
Not Anthropomorphizing in private spaces
Feedback should not be given in the form of a sensor moving (popping out of a device or swiveling to reveal the sensor) in devices where the sensor is activated by an implicit human action. This type of feedback should only be given in cases where the sensor’s motion is triggered by an explicit human command.
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
In our research, we found that participants were often startled by moving parts in our connected devices when they didn’t initiate those actions themselves. For example, one version of our smart mirror involved a camera that would spin to face the person once they walked in front of the camera. The feedback we received from participants suggested that people are not comfortable with devices moving on their own as if they have their own intentions.
Adding Text to indicate system status
Feedback methods that communicate exactly what the visual sensors are detecting (e.g. via text) should be used when applicable to increase user understanding of device data collection.
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
One of the feedback mechanisms we tested involved showing participants a feed of exactly what the camera was capturing. We found that participants responded positively to this type of feedback, particularly when the device also communicated what it was using that data for. For example, when we placed text “Analyzing skin quality” on our prototype of the smart mirror, participants had a better understanding of the device and what data it was collecting compared to a condition without explanatory text.
Prominent Feedback vs Less Prominent Feedback
Connected devices with visual sensors may benefit from having multiple modes of feedback that a user can toggle between. For example, they may prefer prominent feedback when guests visit the home, and less prominent feedback during normal living situations
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
We found that participants had different feedback preferences for different contexts of use. When placed outside the home, for example, visual sensors should have different types of feedback than visual sensors inside the home.
When outside, and in the context of a surveillance device, there should either be no feedback that a device is recording so as not to tip off a potential thief that there is a device watching them OR the feedback should be very prevalent, to be used as a deterrent to a potential thief.
Control
When to give control
Give users a way to control when the visual sensor is recording or not. Capturing visual information is perhaps the most sensitive type of data collection.
This control should be easy for the user to access. For example, a remote or mobile application that comes with the device are appropriate access points for controlling the state of visual sensors.

Exception: An easy way to control the sensor should not be given when the device is being used for outdoor surveillance.

CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
If a visual sensor is placed in a location that it does not record any humans (inside a fridge) it does not (from a privacy standpoint) need to have a control for when it is recording.
When not to give control
Give users a way to control when the visual sensor is recording or not. Capturing visual information is perhaps the most sensitive type of data collection.
This control should be easy for the user to access. For example, a remote or mobile application that comes with the device are appropriate access points for controlling the state of visual sensors.
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
If a visual sensor is placed in a location that it does not record any humans (inside a fridge) it does not (from a privacy standpoint) need to have a control for when it is recording.
 
We found that cameras that can extend and retract out of a device were noticeable and understandable to participants. People intuitively understood that the presence of a sensor to indicate that the camera is ready to record, but not necessarily recording. We learned that a light for a pop-up camera is still necessary for the user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
DO
- We found that cameras that can extend
- The user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
DON'T
- We found that cameras that can extend
- The user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
- We found that cameras that can extend
- The user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
CONSIDER
- We found that cameras that can extend
- The user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
Fundamentals
When to use visual sensors
Borrowing existing feedback methods can improve the understanding of feedback
Light is an existing, pervasive method of providing feedback that a sensor is recording information. Light is an existing, pervasive method of providing feedback that a sensor is recording information.
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
It is particularly used to communicate that visual and auditory information is being collected. People seemed to prefer this existing language/feedback method for cameras as they don't need to learn something new.
Feedback
When to provide feedback
Having a visual sensor that pops-up out of a device is particularly useful for discrete use cases
Having a visual sensor that pops-up out is particularly useful for devices like a video conferencing on a TV (not capturing video with a security camera).
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
We found that cameras that can extend and retract out of a device were noticeable and understandable to participants. People intuitively understood that the presence of a sensor to indicate that the camera is ready to record, but not necessarily recording. We learned that a light for a pop-up camera is still necessary for the user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
Borrowing existing feedback methods can improve the understanding of feedback
Light is an existing pervasive method of providing feedback that a sensor is recording information. Light is an existing pervasive method of providing feedback.
Justification
People are accustomed to seeing lights next to cameras, and so their mental models matches.
How to provide feedback
Having a visual sensor that pops-up out of a device is particularly useful for devices that support discrete use cases, like a video conferencing on a TV.
Having a visual sensor that pops-up out is particularly useful for devices like a video conferencing on a TV (not capturing video with a security camera).
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
We found that cameras that can extend and retract out of a device were noticeable and understandable to participants. People intuitively understood that the presence of a sensor to indicate that the camera is ready to record, but not necessarily recording. We learned that a light for a pop-up camera is still necessary for the user to be able to tell when the sensor is capturing data.
Not Anthropomorphizing in private spaces
Feedback should not be given in the form of a sensor moving (popping out of a device or swiveling to reveal the sensor) in devices where the sensor is activated by an implicit human action. This type of feedback should only be given in cases where the sensor’s motion is triggered by an explicit human command.
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
In our research, we found that participants were often startled by moving parts in our connected devices when they didn’t initiate those actions themselves. For example, one version of our smart mirror involved a camera that would spin to face the person once they walked in front of the camera. The feedback we received from participants suggested that people are not comfortable with devices moving on their own as if they have their own intentions.
Adding Text to indicate system status
Feedback methods that communicate exactly what the visual sensors are detecting (e.g. via text) should be used when applicable to increase user understanding of device data collection.
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
One of the feedback mechanisms we tested involved showing participants a feed of exactly what the camera was capturing. We found that participants responded positively to this type of feedback, particularly when the device also communicated what it was using that data for. For example, when we placed text “Analyzing skin quality” on our prototype of the smart mirror, participants had a better understanding of the device and what data it was collecting compared to a condition without explanatory text.
Prominent Feedback vs Less Prominent Feedback
Connected devices with visual sensors may benefit from having multiple modes of feedback that a user can toggle between. For example, they may prefer prominent feedback when guests visit the home, and less prominent feedback during normal living situations
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
We found that participants had different feedback preferences for different contexts of use. When placed outside the home, for example, visual sensors should have different types of feedback than visual sensors inside the home.
When outside, and in the context of a surveillance device, there should either be no feedback that a device is recording so as not to tip off a potential thief that there is a device watching them OR the feedback should be very prevalent, to be used as a deterrent to a potential thief.
Control
When to give control
Give users a way to control when the visual sensor is recording or not. Capturing visual information is perhaps the most sensitive type of data collection.
This control should be easy for the user to access. For example, a remote or mobile application that comes with the device are appropriate access points for controlling the state of visual sensors.

Exception: An easy way to control the sensor should not be given when the device is being used for outdoor surveillance.

CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
If a visual sensor is placed in a location that it does not record any humans (inside a fridge) it does not (from a privacy standpoint) need to have a control for when it is recording.
When not to give control
Give users a way to control when the visual sensor is recording or not. Capturing visual information is perhaps the most sensitive type of data collection.
This control should be easy for the user to access. For example, a remote or mobile application that comes with the device are appropriate access points for controlling the state of visual sensors.
CaptionCaptionCaption
CaptionCaptionCaption
Justification
If a visual sensor is placed in a location that it does not record any humans (inside a fridge) it does not (from a privacy standpoint) need to have a control for when it is recording.
 
Sensors > Tactile
Sensors > Data
Sensors > Chemical
Sensors > Feedback
Sensors > Killswitch
Sensors > Security
Sensors > Outdoor
Sensors > Indoor
Sensors > Private