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Communicating Privacy in 2010
By Mathias Dahlström, Belmer Negrillo & Helma Töpper


  Cee   PrivateTENT  




Friends sharing emotions with colored jackets. The farther they are to the right
in the picture, the drunker they are.

User Perception

I want to communicate my expectations for privacy, but I don't want this imposed technologic things that constrain my expression diversity!

When we move through different environments our expectation of privacy changes. We need to set our level of availability and communicate it to our social network depending on the current context to avoid undesired interruptions/interactions.

We know that you can just say to people that you are busy or suppose that people will recognize your behavior and context signs and know if you are available or not. But sometimes just the fact to keep saying all the time your current privacy state is already an undesired interruption and maybe your signs about that are not clear enough to the others. So we think that if we find a way to extend the visibility of these natural signs the communication will be more effective.

Following some examples:
(click on the thumbnails to watch the video sketches)

family situation
-reading a book and making sure that you need your own space and you are not bored with the situation.
- you are at home with your boy or girlfriend for the first time and your mother passes by your house and suddenly she wants to visit you.

work situation
- I couldn't work on my report, because I get interrupted through phone calls, mails and visitors all the time.

public situation
- if I'm very depressed about a situation and there are no friends or family near by, how do I show to others that I really want to start a new conversation with strangers without invading their privacy?


Mother Visit


Plugin Network


As it is supposed, for each situation of the daily life, the advantages of doing this communication of privacy expectation more effective varies.

In the Workplace it can improve the average concentration of the team and increase the productivity of the employees. Or even make people respect more each other's feelings, because the optional common awareness of the group make to someone individually ignore it more difficult.

In Family situations you can know if someone is busy or if in that particular moment it will be inconvenient to be interrupted. Or maybe the family/couple as a whole can enjoy share an emotional interchange. Maybe you can understand better some teenager behaviors; maybe you can understand better why your baby is crying.

With Friends, besides some advantages that you found in the family situation too, you can identify groups related and optionally express your sympathy or antipathy in relation to someone.

In Public Spaces, you can show clearly that you are open to meet new people, to make friends, or just the opposite, that you just want to be left alone. And the way that you choose to express it (the display device) is already a social code.

For handicapped people, you can give then an option to access or express this information by their better personal capacities, just choosing the appropriate display device.

For people that had an accident or are in the hospital in bad situation, with the biometrics technology you can show if you need help, emotional attention or just rest.



Service Description

C-mee is composed of two sub services, one for input and one for output. Overall this service extends and augments the expression we use today to communicate our expected levels of privacy.

As input of the system we use sensors that identifies the users Context, by getting the surround physical space information, and read his Personal Expression, getting biometrical information as stress level, sweat, heartbeat, breath, etc, and evaluate them. This evaluation is based on getting these 2 factors (Context and Expression) and then balance with the users desired Self Expectation level, that is much more significative. This level set works as a filter of influence of the previous 2 inputs, between a free emotional expression and a totally controlled message. This personal evaluation is then transmitted to the proximity (like body distance) where it is picked up by the output service.

One of the advantages of this input system is that the Context data are obtained by signals emitted by the environment, instead of keep tracking all the movements of the user, as are the usual solutions for this problem. And after this data are crossed with the biometrical data, all the information used is then discarded (because it always shows the current state), in way to keep the privacy of the user.


The output service is implemented in the objects we use everyday to express ourselves, like clothing, jewelry, fashion, a book that your reading, personal objects, etc. They pick up emitted evaluations from the input services in the close proximity and create a reflection of the accumulated privacy level in its material.

Sometimes, the input and output system can be the same object.

Optionally, you can connect yourself to a network, in a way that it will be another output device, and people can access it remotely. And, important, you can turn it off or on at any moment you desire. If you are off, it just display a color (e.g. black) to off.

As "side effect" we are creating a tool to people express emotions and to integrate their personal objects with this emotional state.


You can have an idea of the proposed flow of data between the two systems in the diagram below:


The primary stakeholders of the service are the technology companies creating the core platform and protocol.

Then the fashion and textile industry are in the main product launch strategy, because the property of this sector in being a trendsetter in the market.

In the extension we view all industries related to personal expression as potential stakeholders. We will focus on the sectors of mobile phones, jewelry, eyewear and furniture.



Stakeholders Interest
The service will always be perceived as a range of products, because then are the external interface that appears to the final user. These products, exactly because this superficial property, can adapt to each person desires.

The physical products can always follow the current social behavior tendencies, like fashion, architecture, design, music and art, and still keep the same, if necessary, technological background. For that reason the person can choose their own tool for the personal expression, e.g. clothes, ring, eye lenses, chairs, watch, mobile phone or any kind of decorations.

Unique Selling Proposition
In resume, people will buy this product as a special and original way to extend their self-expression and to communicate their expectation of privacy or mood to others. But, as usual in any human communication, later it will probably be used in different uses like social group identity (tribes), fashion differentiation, language slang and in art explorations.



  • Extends peripheral self-expression communication beyond visual sense.
  • The new generation is more or less used with the procedures and code of the system, due to softwares wide spread out like Messenger and ICQ.
  • It does not block people contact/interruption, but just communicate expectations clearly. This makes possible to have more people sharing or working in the same open space without need of physical barriers to keep basic levels of privacy.
  • Flexible enough to fit in many different cultures and local codes.
  • Possibilities of use of the same personal object in many different environments/situations and still keep a common code of communication.
  • Keep the privacy of the data (just assured when not connected to a network).
  • Improve of self-knowledge, conscience of own emotions.


  • Need to introduce a new behavior and communication code. The fashion industry can be solution to this problem.
  • To work fully, need to wait the development and commercial price of Biometrics Technology.
  • Need of a big initial investment to create a minimal initial infrastructure.
  • Some people just will not want to communicate their privacy level, even in a workplace. For this case, we must keep always clear in the Communication Campaign that keeping this feature optional is a question of respect of privacy too, and you can just turn it off any time you want and it will not be something impolite.


What is missing?

- How and when connect the stakeholders companies?
- What will be the first product to be launched?
- Will it be cheap enough to fit in many personal objects?
- Should all the service have a central device in the body or a lot of different communicating devices that work together?