Challenging the concept of smart doorbells

Research by Sofie-Amalie Torp Dideriksen

In less than a decade, smart doorbells have become a household stable, introducing a new form of surveillance cameras. But while the cameras have given a new purpose to the doorbell, they also come with an array of privacy concerns. Much critique has been given to the management of data and the effect private surveillance has on society. Smart doorbells have also entered the street of Amsterdam, prompting the municipality to look into how to deal with the arising privacy issues.

In this project, we approach the product on the interaction level, zooming in on the interaction between two people - the visitor and the owner - through the medium of a smart doorbell. We explore how this medium facilitates the interchange and how it facilitates an emerging power difference.

To challenge the current design of smart doorbells, alternative smart doorbells were designed, taking a starting point in three different definitions of privacy. Each doorbell opens up for a new form of negotiation of the terms of the interaction between owner and visitor. The end result was an exhibition held in Amsterdam, where three new  privacy-centric designs were displayed.

At the exhibition, data was gathered about visitors’ opinions and views on the doorbells and analysed to better understand people’s values and preferences in regards to privacy in the context of smart doorbells. The result showed that speculative design exhibitions could be a valuable tool for better understanding citizens’ values and preferences. The physical manifestations of alternative futures allowed a nuanced and concrete discussion about possible interventions. This shows how speculative design can help institutions such as Amsterdam municipality deal with emerging technologies such as the smart doorbell.


Afbeelding credits

Header afbeelding: Smart doorbell_Canva.png

Icon afbeelding: Smart doorbell_Canva.png