The Connected Shower

Related Publications
  • Hyosun Kwon, Joel E. Fischer, Martin Flintham, and James Colley. 2018. The Connected Shower: Studying Intimate Data in Everyday Life. Proc. ACM Interact. Mob. Wearable Ubiquitous Technol. 2, 4, Article 176 (December 2018), 22 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3287054
  • Andy Crabtree, Lewis Hyland, James Colley, Martin Flintham, Joel E Fischer, and Hyosun Kwon. 2019. Probing IoT-based consumer services: ‘insights’ from the connected shower. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00779-019-01303-3 

This project entails a 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.

Shower sensor kit. (a): Overview of the kit including a gyro sensor attached to the shower head hose; a sensor box detecting water flow and temperature; a scale box, and a Rasberry Pi monitor. (b, c, d): detailed view of each part. (e): Shower kit installed in a bathroom. (f, g): Products place on the scale.