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Project Oikos

Abstract

Smart Wearables are essentially sensor nodes collecting data for the smartphone. Smartwatches, glasses, clothing, and even jewelry are some of the examples. They provide the opportunity to enhance efficiency across industries by continuously monitoring human activity. However, they also pose security and privacy concerns when compared to other computing devices, because these wearable technologies are  much more personal. Simple accelerometer data from any smart device can reveal the owner's gender, age, levels of activity, diagnosis information, and activity the owner is performing during different times of the day. Therefore pr challenges are critical to their usage.

The primary goal of this project is to identify what are the privacy concerns of users, how they perceive the data collection, and what is their level of awareness with regards to the data usage and privacy policies of these devices.

Motivation

As noted in the abstract, smart wearables' ability to ubiquitously and continuously collect and transmit data to their sister devices (smartphones, other IoT devices) poses many privacy risks. Their sensitive nature accentuates these privacy risks as they can often reveal vital information about an individual's health, their daily routine, and the people they interact with. Moreover, since the mass adoption of these devices is recent, most users are unaware of the potential implications of continuous monitoring, storage, profiling, and analysis of health and personal data.

The answers to the questions regarding user awareness, privacy concerns, and perception of data collection methodologies helped us understand users' current mental model in the context of smart wearable privacy. Also, it helps us understand their level of understanding concerning the types and extent of data that can be collected. Finally, what would be the best means to help them protect their sensitive information.

Why Okios?

Like with other projects, I wanted to give the project a historical flavor. Oikos is a Greek word used by Aristotle in his philosophical discussions to differentiate between two spheres of life: the public sphere of the polis, associated with political life, and the private sphere of the Oikos, associated with domestic life. Since this project focuses on privacy implications, the term Oikos seems to be very fitting with its purpose.