Framework 1: Speculative design and beyond
Case Study: Project Alias
Project Alias was created by Bjørn Karmann. He wanted to give users more control over their smart assistants, both when it comes to customisation and privacy. It is a teachable ‘parasite’ that blocks smart assistants from listening to private conversations and unblocks them when you want to use your smart assistant.
I found that this design spans across two different design frameworks, both speculative and transitional design. The project had two outcomes, a physical object that can be used to solve an issue today and a discussion on issues with smart devices and how they invade our privacy. The physical object is an example of transitional design as it pushes towards a future that we want to be in where we have more control over our personal information. However, our main focus is the discussion the project sparked and how it will shape our future.
Our relationship with technology is formed from how we interact with it. However, commercial smart products for the home tends to treat the user as passive consumers. Especially smart-home assistance has shown design patterns that limit the possibilities of interaction and agency from the user perspective, even in the most private and personal sphere; the home.
Our interaction patterns are highly determined by the designers of these products. This project addresses how this power relation can be redefined, especially when it comes to privacy. The exciting future that “smart” technologies can give us often comes with conditions that diminish our privacy. Alias challenges this condition and asks what kind of “smart” we actually want in the future.