IoT devices can be very helpful in day to day life, but what happens when one of your devices is used to stalk you?


The Concept

The Ring is a device that tracks your partner's heartbeat. It will let the other person know when your heart rate increases because you are feeling scared or anxious by vibrating the partner's ring. It also comes with a way to find your ring in case you have lost it by logging into The Ring's website. We chose this concept because it involves something that you would always be wearing, your engagement ring, and the seemingly helpful feature of having it send data to the cloud. However, this data can allow for stalking because someone can look up where the data is coming from if this information is not secured. 


The Product Design

Rings, especially wedding bands, are a highly personal item.  Personal items tend to have very diverse physical forms, thus it is not worth discussing what one of our rings might look like.  The information recorded, however, would be the same across all rings.  In our video, we explore the issues with ring tracking, but we did not discuss the relay of emotion as a negative feature.  Knowing your spouse's emotions every second of the day might put strain on the relationship.  There is something to be said for suddenly having complete transparency in a relationship that may never have had it before.  Alternatively, if we always knew when our spouse was stressed, that might make us unnecessarily stressed for them.



Tongtong Lu -


 We chose this story and technology because of an article discussing the victims of domestic abuse and their cellphones.  In our increasingly connected life, it is often very difficult to for us to hide from the world.  When the person trying to find us is someone very close, it becomes that much harder to hide.  Victims of domestic abuse are told to be weary of their cellphones and not use it to call anyone, their calls can be used to track them.  Text messages are the only thing they can safely send.  Given the trend towards smaller products that can not only sense biometrics, but provide positioning information, we wanted to explore a relationship where a spouse gives a very large gift.  This gift, a ring, has a very substantial social meaning which makes one see the ring's digital function as highly secondary and almost worth ignoring.  The ring giver proceeds to take advantage of the ring's function when it suits him.  Not realizing the ring's full digital capabilities, the recipient of the ring is caught off guard by the fact that he can be tracked.



IoT designers must be aware of how easily someone can look at the products's data without permission. It may seem helpful to have a method to help you find your lost item, but there must be security measures in place so not just anyone can look up where the device is. Additionally, it must be clear to the user all the information that is being collected, where it is going, and if others have access to it. There must also be a way to turn the device off if the user does not want his data collected at any given time.

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49-713 Designing for the Internet of Things

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A hands-on introductory course exploring the Internet of Things and connected product experiences.


IoT devices can be very helpful in day to day life, but what happens when one of your devices is used to stalk you?


February 19th, 2017