September 16, 2020

Project description:
This is a research project that inquires potential avenues for engaging with the Internet of Things data in the home. While people often choose to add IoT devices to their homes for the convenience or functionality they provide, they rarely think about the data that are captured through their everyday use.

In response, we are making “Broadcast”. It is a product that plays ‘sounds’ of data when Alexa is being engaged with in the home.

Skills required:
We are looking for someone with:
– Experience with development with raspberry pi, particularly tracking network traffic of IoT devices.
– Experience with power management debugging (this object will be deployed in participants’ homes for weeks at a time)
– Experience or interest in working with physical prototyping experience that assembles electronic parts into the raspberry pi
– Interested in working with a design research team

How Data Capture Works:
We have built a working prototype with raspberry pi that captures Alexa data without wire connections to alexa device or router. Using monitor mode, the Raspberry Pi captures Alexa data packages traveling through the home wifi router. The channel where Alexa data packages are sent is identified by Alexa Mac Address.

The Raspberry Pi was able to capture Alexa’s activity in one researcher’s home, but the success failed to be replicated in other homes. In the home where Broadcast was able to capture Alexa data, its performance was unstable and stopped working after 8 hours.

Project timeline:
This is a research and design project. Even though we will deal with uncertainties and surprises, our ideal timeline looks like this:
Summer 2020 quarter: accomplish a first fully functioning prototype and finalize fabrication. When Covid Allows: deploy into people’s homes. Before this is possible, we will deploy in our own homes as researchers.

This will be a paid position. If you are interested, please write a short paragraph explaining your interest and how your past experiences and skills fit our needs. If you have example projects to share, please also send links to those. Please send this to Audrey Desjardins: