The Living Room of the Future is a collaborative production between Fellowship, Databox, FACT, the University of York, the AHRC Objects of Immersion project, BBC R&D and the British Council; see the LRoTF blog and video for more information about what your living room might look like in the future.


The IoT Databox was unveiled at the Mozilla Festival in October 2016. It is currently being developed in partnership with the Databox project. The basic gist of the IoT Databox is that parties who process personal data generated by IoT devices build apps that can be downloaded by a user and installed on a physical device – the Databox - which acts as a gateway to an individual’s or a household’s IoT data.

Databox apps are accompanied by interactive service level agreements (SLA) that account for data usage as per the requirements of general data protection regulation, and allow people to exercise fine-grained granular choice over data collection and processing.

A dedicated app SDK, design to support novice as well as expert users, seeks to encourage apps that do not take data off-the-box, but instead perform computation and actuation locally.

Users interact with Databox apps via a mobile phone dashboard, an app store, and the SLA:

Further outputs, including publications, emerging from the Fellowship can be found below. If you would like to know more about the IoT-Databox, please contact andy.crabtree @


The Internet of Things (IoT) embeds computing in mundane objects distributed throughout everyday life. In doing so it creates a deluge of data, including a large amount of personal data revealing insights into our everyday lives. And it does so ‘unobtrusively’, or invisibly, as well as in ways that are largely beyond our control, which would at the same time seem to undermine the potential of the IoT and create widespread concerns about privacy. This EPSRC Fellowship has sought to explore ways in which we might make the IoT accountable, particularly with respect the flow and distribution of data, so that people can see and understand what the IoT is doing and what is happening to their data as a preface to being able to exercise control.


We have adopted a 3 pronged approach to addressing the accountability challenge:

1. Ethnography. We have undertaken qualitative studies of personal data sharing and privacy practices in everyday life, in order to understand the concerns that ordinarily attach to personal data sharing and how people ordinarily seek to manage them. This has highlighted that people seek to minimise the potential 'attack surface' of the digital on their everyday relationships, and that there is corresponding  need to develop tools that support relationship management and allow people to minimise the potential attack surface of the Internet of Things on their everyday lives.

2. Interaction design. Our ethnographic work has informed the development of accountable interaction mechanisms. These mechanisms form part of an underlying 'Databox' infrastructure and span the design of various accountability mechanisms including: Service Level Agreements that clearly articulate the parties to and purposes of personal data processing, as well the devices or 'data sources' implicated in it; a familiar app store model, that clearly reflects various risks that attach to IoT applications as well as social feedback; feedback mechanisms that enable users to inspect data processing operations and terminate them should they feel the need; application management mechanisms that allow people to control IoT device access and data sharing locally as well as globally; and an underlying Software Application Environment integrated with the Databox infrastructure to enable novice and expert developers alike to build accountability into IoT applications.

3. Engagement. Our ethnographic and interaction design work has been complemented by engagement with a variety of key stakeholders including industry, professional practice, and law. Over the course of the Fellowship we have had strong engagement with industry across a variety of sectors including media, communications, energy, fast moving consumer goods, and the arts, demonstrating our approach at industry events (e.g., at BT's "Smartworld" Innovation Showcase) and co-creating public demonstrations of future technologies (e.g., BBC R&D's "Kitchen Databox Demo"). We have also engaged with professional practice, running multiple sessions at Mozilla's pioneering Internet privacy event "Mozfest" over the last 3 years to enable hands-on experience of our IoT Databox approach. Given the introduction of a new General Data Protection Directive in 2018, the Fellowship has also engaged with law to understand the potential impact of new regulation on the IoT and ensure our approach is robust. Next, as the technology enabling our approach begins to take shape and coalesce, is end user engagement, which we will pick up as we move through 2018 and into 2019.

The IoT-Databox Model (see Crabtree et al. 2016)



Crabtree, A., Hyland, L., Colley, J., Flintham, M., Fischer, J. and Kwon, H. (2019) “Probing IoT-based consumer services: ‘insights’ from the connected shower”, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, DOI 0.1007/s00779-019-01303-3

Crabtree, A., Urquhart, L. and Chen, J. (2019) “Right to an Explanation Considered Harmful”, Social Science Research Network, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.12199.39840

Sailaja, N., Colley, J., Crabtree, A., Gradinar, A., Coulton, P., Forrester, I., Kerlin, L. and Stenton, P. (2019) “The Living Room of the Future”, Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Interactive Experiences for Television and Online Video, pp. 95-107, ACM Press.

Nilsson, T., Crabtree, A., Fischer, J. and Koleva, B. (2019) ‘Breaching the future: understanding human challenges of autonomous systems for the home”, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, vol. 23 (2), pp. 287-307.

Coulton, P., Lindley, J., Gradinar, A., Colley, J., Sailaja, N., Crabtree, A., Forrester, I. and Kerlin, L. (2019) “Experiencing the future mundane”, Research Through Design (RDT) Conference 2019, March 19-22, Delft, The Netherlands.

Moore, J., Arcia-Moret, A., Yadav, P., Mortier, R., Brown, A., McAuley, D., Crabtree, A., Greenhalgh, C., Haddadi, H. and Amar, Y. (2019) “Zest: REST over ZeroMQ”, Third International Workshop on Security, Privacy and Trust in the Internet of Things (SPT-IoT 2019), March 11-15, Kyoto, Japan, IEEE.


Urquhart, L., Lodge, T. and Crabtree, A. (2018) “Demonstrably doing accountability in the Internet of Things”, International Journal of Law and Technology, vol. 27 (1), pp. 1-27.

Poonam, Y., Moore, J., Li, Q., Mortier, R., Brown, A., Crabtree, A., Greenhalgh, C., McAuley, D., Amar, Y., Shamasabadi, A.S. and Haddadi, H. (2018) “Providing occupancy as a service with Databox”, Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Smart Cities and Fog Computing, pp. 29-34, Shenzhen, ACM Press.

Lodge, T., Crabtree, A. and Brown, A. (2018) “IoT app development: supporting data protection by design and default”, Proceedings of the 2018 Joint Conference and International Symposium on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and Wearable Computers, pp. 901-910, Singapore, ACM Press.

Lodge, T., Crabtree A. and Brown, A. (2018) “Developing GDPR compliant apps for the edge”, Proceedings of the 13th International Workshop on Data Privacy Management, pp. 313-328, Barcelona, Springer.

Verame, J., Costanza, E, Fischer, J., Crabtree, A., Ramchurn, S, Rodded, T. and Jennings, N. (2018) “Learning from the veg box: designing unpredictability in agency delegation”, Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, paper no. 447, Montreal, ACM Press.

Sailaja, N., Crabtree, A., McAuley, D. and Stenton, D. (2018) “Explicating the challenges of providing novel media experiences driven by user personal data”, Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Interactive Experiences for Television and Online Video, pp. 101-113, Seoul, ACM Press.

Hyland, L., Crabtree, A., Fischer, A., Colley, J. and Fuentes, C. (2018) “What do you want for dinner? Need anticipation and the design of proactive technologies, Computer Supported Cooperative Work: The Journal of Collaborative Computing and Work Practices, vol. 27, pp. 917-946.

Colley, J. and Crabtree, A. (2018) “Object Based Media, the IoT and Databox”, Living in the Internet of Things: Cybersecurity of The IoT, 28-29 March, London: IET.

Crabtree, A., Lodge, T., Colley, J.,  Greenhalgh, C., Glover, K., Haddadi, H., Amar. Y., Mortier, R., Li, Q., Moore, J., Wang, L., Yadav, P., Zhao, J., Brown, A., Urquhart, L. and McAuley, D. (2018) “Building accountability into the internet of things: the IoT Databox model”, Journal of Reliable Intelligent Environments, vol. 4 (1), pp. 39-55.


Chamberlain, A., Crabtree, A., Haddadi, H. and Mortier, R. (2017) “Editor’s note: special theme on privacy and the Internet of Things” Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, vol. 22 (2), pp. 289-292.

Tolmie, P. and Crabtree, A. (2017) “The practical politics of sharing”, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, vol. 22 (2), pp. 293-315.

Crabtree, A., Tolmie, P., Knight, W. (2017) “Repacking privacy for a networked world”, Computer Supported Cooperative Work: The Journal of Collaborative Computing and Work Practices, vol. 26 (1), pp. 453-488.

Fischer, J., Crabtree, A., Colley, J. and Rodden, T. (2017) “Data work: how advisors and clients make IoT data accountable”, Computer Supported Cooperative Work: The Journal of Collaborative Computing and Work Practices, vol. 26 (1), pp. 597-626.

Crabtree, A., Lodge, T., Colley, J., Greenghalgh, C. and Mortier, R. (2017) “Accountable IoT? Outline of the Databox model”, International Symposium on a World of Wireless, Mobile, and Multimedia Networks, pp. 1-6, Macau, IEEE.

Sailaja, N., Crabtree, A. and Stenton, P. (2017) “Challenges of using personal data to drive personalised electronic programme guides”, Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 5226-5231, Denver, ACM.

Perera, C., Wakenshaw, S., Baarslag, T., Haddadi, H., Bandara, A., Mortier, R., Crabtree, A., Ng, I., McAuley, D. and Crowcroft, J. (2017) “Valorising the IoT Databox: creating value for everyone”, Transactions on Emerging Technologies, vol. 28 (1), DOI 10.1002/ett.3125


Mortier, R., Zhao, J, Crowcroft, J., Li, Q., Wang, L., Haddadi, H., Amar, Y., Crabtree, A., Colley, J., Lodge, T., Brown, A., McAuley, D. and Greenhalgh, C. (2016) “Personal data management with the Databox: what’s inside the box?”, Proceedings of the ACM Workshop on Cloud-Assisted Networking, pp. 49-54, Irvine, ACM.

Crabtree, A., Lodge, T., Colley, J., Greenhalgh, C. and Mortier, R. (2016) “Building accountability into the Internet of Things”, Social Science Research Network, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.27512.44803

Crabtree, A. and Mortier, R. (2016) “Personal data, privacy and the Internet of Things: the shifting locus of agency and control”, Social Science Research Network, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.2.34496.12809

Mortier, R., Haddadi, H., Henderson, T., McAuley, D., Crowcroft, J. and Crabtree, A. (2016) “Human Data Interaction”, Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, Chapter 41, Interaction design Foundation.

Crabtree, A., Lodge, T., Colley, J., Greenhalgh, C., Mortier, R. and Haddadi, H. (2016) “Enabling the new economic actor: data protection, the digital economy, and the Databox”, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, vol. 20 (6), pp. 947-957.

Fischer, J., Crabtree, A., Rodden, T., Colley, J., Costanza, E., Jewell, M. and Ramchurn, S. (2016) “‘Just whack it on until it gets hot’ - working with IoT data in the home”, Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May 7-12, San Jose, ACM.

Crabtree, A. (2016) “Enabling the new economic actor: personal data regulation and the digital economy”, The 2nd IEEE Worksop on Legal and Technical Issues in Cloud Computing and Cloud-supported Internet of Things, April 8, Berlin, IEEE.

Tolmie, P., Crabtree, A., Rodden, T., Colley, J. and Luger, E. (2016) “‘This has to be the cats’ - personal data legibility in networked sensing systems”, Proceedings of the 19th Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 491-502, San Francisco, ACM.

Crabtree, A. and Tolmie, P. (2016) “A day in the life of things in the home”, Proceedings of the 19th Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 1738-1750, San Francisco, ACM.


Crabtree, A. and Mortier, R. (2015) “Human data interaction: historical lessons from social studies and CSCW”, Proceedings of the 14th European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 1-20, Oslo, Springer.

Button, G., Crabtree, A., Rouncefield, M and Tolmie, P. (2015) Deconstructing Ethnography: Towards a Social Methodology for the Design of Ubiquitous Computing and Interactive Systems, London: Springer.



Building a Healthy Public Service Internet, October 23, Mozilla Festival 2018, The Royal Society of Arts, London.

Intelligent Computation for Dynamic Networked Environments, June 21-22, Helsinki, Finland.

The Living Room of the Future, May 3-28, Foundation for Art and Creative Technologies, Liverpool.


Sarajevo Unlimited, The Living Room of the Future in collaboration with the British Council, BBC R&D, and the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT), November 2-5, Sarajevo.

Mozilla Festival, Decentring Personal Data Analytics, October 28, Ravensbourne College, London.

Mozilla Festival, Databox Hack Day, October 26, RSA House, London.

Cabinet Office Policy Lab, “Design Research”, September 20, 1 Horse Guards Road, London.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office UK/Japan Socio-Cyber Physical Systems Workshop,  September 7-8, Japanese Embassy, Toyko.

BT Innovation Showcase, Databox in a “Smart World”, June 12-16, Adastral Park, Ipswich.

Smart Energy GB Roundtable, Leveraging Energy Data for Digital Health and Care Monitoring, May 2, London.


Mozilla Festival, Databox: Hack an App, October 29-30, Ravensbourne College, London.

Mozilla Festival, The Kitchen Databox Demo in collaboration with BBC R&D, October 29, Ravensbourne College, London.


EC Roundtable, Personal Information Management, November 27, Brussels

Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, Privacy and Trust in the Digital Economy, March 10, DE Hub

DE Catapult Roundtable, Proposals for the Budget IoT Investment Package, Feb 2, London

Ofcom Workshop, Digital Media and Big Data, January 14, Nottingham


EP/R03351X/1 Defence Against Dark Artefacts, £1,011,787

AH/R008728/1 Objects of Immersion, £60,409

EP/N028260/1 Databox: Privacy-Aware Infrastructure for Managing Personal Data, £1,230, 248

EP/N014243/1, Future Everyday Interaction with the Autonomous Internet of Things, £806,241

EP/M02315X/1, From Human Data to Personal Experience, £4,062,954


Andy Crabtree

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Databox apps explained

Databox explained

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        End-user interaction with the Databox