Friday, September 14, 2012

Connected Devices - Surprising Behavior

Over the course of this year I had the opportunity to interview nearly 100 people. While the focus of these interviews varied, inevitably we talked about the connected devices in each person’s life. Feelings towards these devices varied from despise (“I hate it when people have their face buried in their phone while at a party!”) to love (“I don’t know what I’d do without my iPhone!”). These feelings varied regardless of demographics: age, income, etc. In my observations I stumbled across a consistent behavior: safety and security.

Physical Safety
A common theme amongst consumers is the need to stow connected devices in public for physical safety. Whether to deter theft by not advertising, or to keep attention to the road, the common theme was to stow your device while walking or commuting. The method of commute affects these observations (in Chicago: the Metra is considered more secure than the ‘L’ due to its enclosed space, fewer stops, and presence of an Engineer roaming the cars), but all observations using local city transit are in agreement. Most people perform brief, targeted actions on their devices. Others keep their devices stowed.

Digital Security
A common theme amongst people is the need to avoid identity theft. This is despite the low probability of this occurrence. (Wikipedia cites a 2008 document claiming 2%; With the proliferation of social networking, Blogging, and online email platforms, I assume this probability reduces.) People either employ inventive tactics (a set of passwords depending on the situation) or more likely an artifact to keep track of individual passwords (Excel, dedicated application, addressbook).

“Where do We Go from Here? …You Must Love Me!”
Current active measures are transitional. People need passive measures enacted by responsible companies to enable security. New products and software must keep our customers safe and secure in a passive manner. From today’s “car mode” that keeps interaction brief and simple, to tomorrow’s Google Glass that integrates real and virtual interfaces: we must love our customers’ desire to be safe. From today’s KeePassX that creates and organizes a plethora of passwords, to tomorrow’s OpenID that centralizes and secures the customer’s identity: we must love our customers’ desire to be secure. Let's build products and software that always keeps our customers safe and secure. 

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