Author: Irene Ng

HAT as your Digital Data Vault

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HAT as your Digital Data Vault


The HAT is unique as it gives an opportunity for individuals to create a repository of our own data, generated by us and owned by us i.e. primary data and not secondary data collected by firms such as supermarkets, banks or search engines.

Many digital services currently on websites, hubs and smartphones collect our data but often do not give us access to it. Sometimes, firms abuse the trust and by selling it on. Often, they develop sophisticated algorithms (think ‘big data’) using our aggregated data to sell on to others for marketing purposes and think its ok just because it is anonymised. The HAT is a unique proposition as it creates a repository of data about us, generated by us and owned by us so that we can apply our own data onto new services and offerings. Any business that wishes to provide us with a service through the HAT must conform to the HAT-certified infrastructure requirements and they do not have the right to access our data for any other purpose except providing it back to us as a service (often with other related data), and they cannot have access to it for other purposes unless we expressly give them permission to do so (which we may, if we get benefit in return).

There is a logic to this. By letting individuals own our own data which we generate about ourselves, we generate real data about ourselves (and not someone doing smart algorithms about the data trying to guess about us). We are free to integrate the data with our own context (if we are given the tools to do so) which could spur the demand for services and connected objects that help us in our lives (think of the iPhone app store). Current privacy laws do not allow industries to share data, which means all data become vertically silo-ed and because they can’t be shared, new services across industry verticals cannot flourish. By creating a HAT owned by us and putting the data generated by us into the HAT, integration across our vertical industries (in terms of the way we consume and experience products and services) become possible, making data become more valuable for us to be traded back with industry. The value of such a data that embeds context as well as across industries, can be our digital commodity to be exchanged with industry for services to serve us as individuals.

The technology behind the HAT is no small beer either – developed over the past few years, check out the personal container research at Horizon hub for our privacy-preserving technology (we can’t claim to be privacy-preserving if we haven’t got the technology for it, can we?)

H.A.T for Discovery of Contextual Archetypes

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HAT for Discovery of Contextual Archetypes

The HAT enables the project to discover contextual archetypes activity sets that create meaning to us as individuals. Contextual archetypes, as an example, could be making tea, after dinner family chats, taking medicine or getting dressed and ready to go to work. They are the social and cultural practices of our lives but are archetypical, because many individuals share similar activity sets. The understanding of qualitative contextual archetypes is achieved through ethnographic research. The ethnographic research will then help us develop a sensing & measurement strategy on what and how Things should or could be animated or sensed, so that we can create digital visibility of these contextual archetypes through sensor data, allowing us to reconstruct the rich understanding of lives through that digital visibility. The sensor data from connected Things is stored in the H.A.T. When the H.A.T is populated with our contextual and interactional data, we employ econometric and mathematical economics modelling to the contextual data, developing H.A.T algorithms and business models within the contextual archetypes.

Contextual archetypes are crucial to understand where, when and what new services are needed, how existing Things could be innovated and what businesses could emerge, as it gives us an understanding of latent needs. This is because contextual archetypes are where vertical industries (food, transportation, health, finance) come together to create value within the lived lives of individuals and within these contextual archetypes of lived lives, vertical industries (through their offerings as a proxy) exhibit lateral dependencies. Understanding such lateral dependencies will help us develop new and innovative offerings to assist in lived lives with new business models and markets emerging from these offerings. It will also help offerings from vertical industries innovate for a connected future.

HAT as a Multi-sided Market Platform & Trust Broker

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HAT as a Multi-sided Market Platform & Trust Broker

The HAT creates the Multi-sided Market Platform in two stages. With the HAT algorithms and business models created from the contextual data, we:

  • generate requirements for new products or services that we might need in the future together with the business models (Think of it as similar to Google’s pagerank algorithm to deduce what you are searching for online)
  • supplement it with ethnographic data to consider how we would acquire and pay for these new services, products or hybrids (ie new economic models).

Through our partners, we hope to have many products and services connected to the HAT, and we intend to create some of them ourselves under this project (you should see what is in our garage and workshops ;p). By doing so, we hope to transform the HAT to function not just as a digital data vault, but into a multi-sided market platform for many products and services to sit on to serve us at home. On the other side of the products and services are people – us – our money and our data. There must be enough of it for the platforms to exist. To ensure that, we must provide the assurance that our data on the HAT is secure and that companies providing us connected products and services must not use our valuable data elsewhere. By doing so, we don’t mind generating more data and making our lives more digitally visible so that we can acquire more products and services to serve us better. It is therefore imperative that products and services that sit on the HAT. have to adhere to a HAT certified privacy and security infrastructure policy and a ‘no-export’ rule on individual data so that it can remain private. The HAT is therefore also a trust broker on the platform.

The project current strategic partners (vacuum cleaners, lightbulbs, household products, software and IT companies) gets first hand information on the project to help them innovate for the future, connecting their offerings to the HAT. (Join us)

For example, the project could help firms create ‘incomplete’ products with a digital interfaces so that we, as users, could personalise it for our contexts of use; or create products that are connected through sensors so that we can operate or be informed about them remotely; or products that are modular so that we could customise through 3D printing; or all the above – but with a big caveat. The data generated from the individual’s use of these services or objects sit in the HAT, owned by us as individuals and can be our commodity to trade with industry, who, in turn, can create new products and services for us to use our data with. A true marketplace!

In 2014, the project will run a HAT-Fest, inviting software developers, programmers and product designers to come together in a week long event to generate new services and make new stuff from the algorithms and business models on the HAT.

We hope that our exemplar offerings will spur many other similar offerings so that there is healthy competition between firms to provide individuals with choice. Only when the HAT is a market platform can individuals be better served as everyone could be different and healthy market competition on the platform will ensure there is sufficient variety of offerings to cater to all of our different needs.

HAT as Empowering the Individual

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HAT as Empowering the Individual

We conceived the H.A.T project and assembled the best team we can think of to deliver on it because:

(1) we believe there is another way for technology to work in our lives a design philosophy that makes us smarter and more empowered, rather than just making things smarter. To do that, we must be able to embed data that includes our practices in context (i.e. what we do, and why we do it), which can then be the basis for the future design of Things.

(2) we believe that personal data which include context could be valuable for us to trade with firms so that they can design offerings we wish to buy to be exchanged for the application of our data onto these offerings.

(3) we believe that privacy can be preserved and with clear property rights of the data from the H.A.T as owned by us as individuals, a market for exchange of data and offerings could emerge, and we are incentivised to generate more data as opposed to the current model where many of us are fearful of digital visibility and exposing personal data.

(4) we believe that the future of how we manufacture things will depend on a design philosophy that includes our context and greater connectivity, with new business and economic models emerging, resulting in more businesses being generated and jobs created even while privacy is preserved.

(5) we believe that firms out there who hold our data (google, banks, supermarkets) – what they call big data – hold a very very small subset of our data and the way we can persuade them to give back our data so that the personal data economy can be formed for more cool products and services is for us to generate more data about ourselves that is even more than what is held out there and more true about who we are and what we want. By participating in the personal data economy as ourselves, the value of our data held by us is worth more than the value of our data held by firms – sooner or later, they will see that and we will begin that conversation on how we can shape our own future that is privacy preserving and having really cool personalised products and services as well!