Archive — Smart speakers
Thermostats, locks and lights: digital tools of domestic abuse
How smart devices are being used by perpetrators of domestic abuse.
We are becoming increasingly aware of some of the darker side of technology. Perhaps this is a challenge to designers and technologists — to ensure that their products can’t be used in this sort of way.
The people who called into the help hotlines and domestic violence shelters said they felt as if they were going crazy.
One woman had turned on her air-conditioner, but said it then switched off without her touching it. Another said the code numbers of the digital lock at her front door changed every day and she could not figure out why. Still another told an abuse help line that she kept hearing the doorbell ring, but no one was there.
The societal benefits of smart speakers
There is a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of new technologies, and smart speakers are no different. This article focuses on the benefits that smart speakers are bringing to society.
We don’t always think of these type of use cases when we’re designing. Creators of a home assistant robot were surprised when their first real user, a quadriplegic man, immediately asked the robot to fetch a towel to wipe his mouth. It was certainly not the top capability the creators of the helper robot had designed it for, but sometimes these automated devices give us something we don’t always think enough about: our dignity.