Ubicomp systems aim to be “distraction-free,” but as a result, users often forget the technology exists or fail to seriously question the role it plays in their lives. For monitoring systems, the issues are complicated because individual devices can collect data for different purposes, and combining data from various devices can reveal unanticipated information. The author was part of a team that investigated these issues in a sensor-rich eldercare facility. The team interviewed the facility’s management, staff, and residents, as well as residents’ family members, to understand how they viewed the technology and its effect on their privacy. Although our interviewees did see embedded technology as a central factor in their environment, few understood the technology, the data it gathered, or how it was used. These results have implications for other ubicomp environments, as well as ubicomp system design.
Related to all the discussions about weblogs and privacy and to some of our internal work.