How to Protect your Privacy in Public Space?


Design Research | 4 months

Skill: research through design, critical design, interview, content analysis

Team: Zhiping Zhang, Jing-Cai Liu, Vera

More details please use a laptop.

Project Background

This project is from Constructive Design Research (CDR) course of Dept. Industrial Design at TU Eindhoven. During this course, we were introduced to CDR as a research method. CDR is a concept for the term of Research through Design, which indicates design activities playing a formative role in the research process. CDR includes three methodologies: Lab, Field and Showroom. In this project, we used Showroom as research methodology, which has a foundation on critical design thinking and speculative design


Protection tools to protect personal data have been widely accepted in online communities. People have a tendency to reveal or conceal their data to protect their privacy in virtual spaces. However, even with the use of ubiquitous surveillance technology around public space, the awareness and the protection of privacy appears to be lacking. With this research, we designed a set of privacy protection items and explored how they are perceived in public areas. The items are introduced and tried in the city center of Eindhoven, it gives greater insight into personal privacy ethics.

Prototype (1)_edited.jpg


- Protect facial characteristics

Prototype (5)_edited.jpg

Voice Changer

- Protect voice characteristics

Prototype (3)_edited.jpg

Phone Case

- Protect location data

User Test & Result Evaluation

We reached 20 participants from the city center of Eindhoven and audio recorded the interviews. We interviewed people where we can spot a surveillance camera and ask them about their views. Then we introduced the three prototypes and ask the participants to choose one prototype to protect their privacy on the street. Participants explained why they made that choice. During the interviews, many questions about privacy in general emerged. The results of the the prototype choosing and answers to the questions about the prototype are summarized. Then we critically analyzed them. 


As the prototypes cannot actually solve the privacy protection problem in actual life, they remain as prototypes. However, they created a contradictory assumption and push the participants to reflect on their privacy issues in public space. Results show that the demand for privacy protection items is present, however, the fear of abuse of these items is extensive. With regard to fashion reasons and a majority of the participants believes it can be accepted widely as fashion icons or personal statements. In the future, the prototypes could be developed to be more correspond to fashion principles.

Prototype (4).JPG

More detailed information can be found in the report: