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The Connected Shower: Studying Intimate Data in Everyday Life

Kwon, Hyosun; Fischer, Joel E.; Flintham, Martin; Colley, James


Hyosun Kwon

Professor of Human-Computer Interaction

James Colley


This paper presents the design and field study of the Connected Shower, a bespoke IoT device that captures water flow, temperature, shower-head movement, and shower product weight. We deployed the device in six UK homes for a week to understand the use of 'intimate data' as captured by IoT systems. Findings from our contextual interviews unpack a) how such intimate data is collaboratively made sense of by accounting for the social order of showering practices as part and parcel of everyday routines; b) how the data makes details of showering accountable to their partners; c) how people reason about sharing intimate data both with third parties and their partners. Our study shows that intimate data is not intimate per se, nor is intimacy a property of the data, but is an interactional outcome arising from the articulation of shower practices to their co-present partners. Thus, judgments as to whether the data is too sensitive, private, or intimate to share are contingent on situated sense-making and therefore subject to change; however, there was a general consensus that sharing intimate data with service providers was acceptable if the data was sufficiently abstract and anonymised. We discuss challenges in the design of trustworthy data-driven IoT systems, and how they need to be warranted to be both acceptable and adopted into our intimate practices.


Kwon, H., Fischer, J. E., Flintham, M., & Colley, J. (2018). The Connected Shower: Studying Intimate Data in Everyday Life. Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, 2(4), 1-22.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 18, 2018
Publication Date Dec 27, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 26, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 27, 2018
Journal Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Issue 4
Article Number 176
Pages 1-22
Keywords CCS Concepts: • Human-centered computing → Empirical studies in ubiquitous and mobile computing;; Additional Key Words and Phrases: Ubiquitous Computing, Internet of Things, Intimacy, Intimate Data, Privacy, Data Work,; Technology Probe
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