IoT Hub Mobile screen design, video editing, and research

IoT Hub logo

How can we create an IoT ecosystem that is more secure and easier to manage?

With more connected devices coming online in the modern ‘smart home,’ homeowners are facing the Sisyphean task of managing dozens of devices simultaneously, each with a different mode of interaction. This project focused on finding an effective and scalable way to ensure the security and privacy of IoT devices in the home by off-loading the burden of security from the user to the manufacturer, and using a resource-full router as a “hub" that stores and processes the data it collects.

The basic idea...

This hub acts as a centralized device for adding, managing, monitoring, and securing devices in a home. In some ways, this hub is like a network firewall, in that we intend that IoT devices go through our hub rather than connecting directly to the Internet. The hub also facilitates the deployment of IoT devices by offering a common platform and a suite of useful services important for mid- and low-end IoT devices, assists with the rapid deployment and evolution of new kinds of services, and presents new ways of connecting devices together in a seamless manner.

house filling up with IoT devices
insecure browsing session

Focusing on security

Most consumers do not go to their devices to “do security” just as they do not go to their internet settings or web browser settings to “do security.” Studies have shown that the average consumer pays little heed to and dismisses many of the security and privacy warnings presented to them in web browsers without reading them. This problem is exaggerated with IoT products which are already designed to exist in the periphery of our attention - the user is prone to forget about the device’s existence, let alone its security and privacy settings.

Reframing security

Instead of relying on the consumer to secure their devices, we rely here on device manufacturers to set limitations on the functionality of their products. This idea is known as the Manufacturer’s Usage Description (MUD) by the IETF, and is gaining traction in the IoT community. Therefore, my job was to sketch a prototype of an interface to the Hub which takes advantage of the MUD.

MUD example
Treemap of CA drug trafficking effects

How would you add a device?
How would you troubleshoot a device?
How would you monitor a device’s activity?

After designing a set of screens demonstrating some of the key interactions of the Hub, I put them into Invision to make a testable interactive prototype to test the usability and understandability of the interface's design...

IoT Hub screenflow gif

A video demostration of the concept

This project was submitted to the FTC’s “Home Inspector Challenge” which is a competition aimed at generating new ideas for building more secure home IoT networks. Below is the video demonstrating the functionality of our IoT Hub that was submitted as part of the materials for our entry to the competition.

Evaluating current solutions

competitive analysis
In order to find current design paradigms for managing in-home IoT devices, I did a quick competitive analysis of some of the major companies with mobile apps for controlling home IoT devices.

References:

This project was part of the CHIMPS Lab, led by Jason Hong at Carnegie Mellon's Human Computer Interaction Institute. Also helping with this project were Dhruva Kaushal, Aayush Bhutani, and Sheng-Hao Huang.