New communications technologies are constantly challenging how we think about privacy. We address the implications of allowing a remote operator to control a physical device in our private spaces, such as homes and offices. Unlike existing technologies, such as Skype, the remote operator can decide where and when to look, and may even be able to physically move objects around. Although conceptually similar to allowing a tradesman into your house or a co-worker into your office, the presence of an intermediate device (the remote presence system, or RPS) raises challenging questions about expectations of privacy. Where can the RPS go? What can it observe? Additionally, how are we to address these privacy concerns and what is affected in doing so? Does the operator of an RPS suffer decreased task performance if your privacy is properly protected? In such a case, what is the best way to label and protect these privacy concerns? By asking users to perform tasks while controlling an RPS in a workplace environment, our research sought to answer these questions.
Alexander Hubers, ’15
Majors: Computer Science, Mathematics
Tanner Stirrat, ’15
Sponsor: Ross Sowell