In our research with the smart security camera and door lock, we found that our participants were making comments on both that had a common thread, since they are both home home monitoring devices. Market research suggests that these devices are among the most popular of connected devices and are expected to usher in the widespread adoption of connected technologies. This page summarizes our findings on these devices.
Deter Intruders, Be Discrete, or Both?
Some Participants Wanted Very Obvious Device Feedback to Deter Intruders
A few of the participants that tested our prototypes of Home Monitoring Systems and Door Locks mentioned that they would want to have their security systems be as prominent as possible. This is because they want to deter intruders from even thinking of entering their home, because they would know they are being watched. This idea comes from the same school of thought in which people place signs for home security systems on their front lawn to deter potential intruders.
Some Participants Wanted Discreet Device Feedback to Record Intruders
Although a few of the participants wanted to deter the intruders, many of them wanted to discreetly record them. Some did not want intruders to know that there is a smart device there, but some were ok with them knowing it is there, as long as the intruders do not know where the sensor is on the device, or how to disable the device.
Can we Give Users the Option to Do Either?
We see two ways to address this split in attitudes towards the level of discreetness used in security devices. One would be creating a device that is inherently discreet, but can be customised with lights, sounds and moving parts to be more of a deterrent, up to the user's discretion. The second would be to create a device that strikes a balance between the two, allowing intruders to know that there is a device there that is recording them, but only up to the point that it would not make the device vulnerable to hacking, breaking, or any other kind of disabling.
Multiple Users and Use Cases
Three User Groups
There are three main user groups of home monitoring devices whose needs should be kept in mind when designing the devices.
Residents in a home need to be able to understand what is happening with all of their devices and be able to control them at all times.
In order to keep their privacy concerns to a minimum, visitors to a home should be able to understand when they are being recorded, and where they can go to be out of the range of a sensor.
We go into more detail on the considerations for intruders in the section above. In short, there are two schools of thought. One being that intruders should be deterred by home monitoring devices that provide very obvious feedback that they are recording, and the other being that intruders should be discreetly recorded.
Two Use Cases
Traditionally, door locks and security cameras have had one purpose: security. However, now, as connected devices, they have an added purpose of allowing the user to monitor what is going on in and around their home to make sure everything is ok. In this case the user is not necessarily using the device for security purposes, but more for surveillance. For example, people now use home monitoring systems to keep an eye on their pets, children, and other family members for safety and communication purposes, not security.
Area for Further Research: The Doorbell as a Control Mechanism
In most of our testing sessions, we tested our door locks as devices with motion sensors that activated when a user walked up to them. However, in a few of our sessions, we told users to press a doorbell next to the door, and then we activated the device. A few users thought that the doorbell was directly activating the doorlock, while a few other users thought that the doorbell was a regular doorbell, and that the resident of the home that the lock is on was activating the door lock from their smartphone.
Overall, participants responded positively when the camera on the door lock was activated by the action of pressing the doorbell. This is in line a the theme in our research that privacy is protected when users explicitly activate the sensing functions of devices.
This idea of a doorbell controlling smart locks, whether directly or indirectly is one that should be explored further.