Tangible Interactions for Privacy Awareness and Control in Ubiquitous Computing Environments

Mehta, Vikram (2023). Tangible Interactions for Privacy Awareness and Control in Ubiquitous Computing Environments. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.00015d38


The emergence of ubiquitous computing (UbiComp) environments has increased the risk of undesired access to individuals’ physical space or their information, anytime and anywhere, raising serious privacy concerns. Individuals lack awareness of and control over vulnerabilities in everyday contexts and need support in regulating disclosures to their physical and digital selves. However, existing solutions based on Graphical User Interface (GUI) often feel physically interruptive, socially disruptive, time-consuming, and cumbersome, especially when managing privacy dynamically. This thesis presents an investigation into the design of tangible privacy management tools situated in a socio-technical context of ubiquitous devices for enabling users to manage their privacy in an ad-hoc manner. To consider users’ privacy perceptions, needs, pain-points, and feedback, a user centric approach is followed. Five user studies are conducted which help to contribute (1) a conceptual framework, (2) a set of user-preferred Image Schemas to extract context specific primary interaction metaphors for ad-hoc privacy management, (3) implementation of a two-device hybrid tangible user interface (TUI) system, and (4) a card-based ideation toolkit. The thesis concludes that a hybrid TUI system with modular hardware and configurable software, which is not only hybrid in terms of form-factor and tangible interaction modalities, but also in terms of interactions styles, can effectively enhance the experience of users when managing privacy ad-hoc in dynamic UbiComp environments.

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