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Human aspects of ubiquitous computing: a study addressing willingness to use it and privacy issues


Identifying the human aspects related to ubiquitous systems focused on people’s willingness to use them and privacy concerns was our goal. We selected two ubiquitous systems: a wearable system (Google Glass) and an embedded in context system (Smart Environments). An online survey, with more than 400 participants, which included questions about how people perceive privacy issues related to the use of these two different ubiquitous systems, was conducted. Results show that privacy is not the only factor defining predisposition or aversion towards using ubiquitous systems. Financial, risk, and convenience factors are the others. We discovered that the importance of these factors on the decision to use them or not depends on the system. Regarding privacy, Google Glass generates a higher degree of concern than the Smart Environments alternative. Female participants tend to be more worried than male participants, independently of the ubiquitous system considered. Finally, the youngest participants (16–25 years old) are the most concerned about privacy threats, which was unexpected.

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Authors would like to thank all questionnaire participants, and those who provided insight during our research. This work was partially supported by Research Center for Communication and Information Technologies (CITIC) at University of Costa Rica.

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Correspondence to Gustavo López.




General information (section)

Sex (woman/man)

Age (numeric input)

Last achieved degree (radio only choice)

Marital status (radio only choice)

Employment status (radio only choice)

Google Glass introduction (section)

Do you know what they are and how Google Glass work? (Yes/No question)

Would you be willing to use Google Glass? (Yes/No and comment question)

Google Glass privacy (section)

Five points (Likert) matrix, horizontal options (Not at all, Slightly, Moderately, Very much, Extremely)

How concerned are you about the possibility of the system copying your body information that could be used to hurt you or steal your identity (fingerprint, iris or vital signs)?

How concerned are you about the presence of the system (used by you or someone else)? Could it affect your behavior?

How concerned are you about the possibility of the system facilitating the interception of your communications without your authorization?

How concerned are you about the possibility of the system facilitating pictures or videos of you to be taken without your permission?

How concerned are you about the possibility of the system capturing and/or publishing somehow your thoughts?

How concerned are you about the possibility of your location being known when using the system?

How concerned are you about the possibility of the system publishing the people you are with?

How concerned are you about a hacker taking control over the system’s information or functionality without you noticing it?

Smart Office introduction (section) and Smart Office privacy (section)

Same as Google Glass.

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López, G., Marín, G. & Calderón, M. Human aspects of ubiquitous computing: a study addressing willingness to use it and privacy issues. J Ambient Intell Human Comput 8, 497–511 (2017).

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  • Ambient intelligence
  • Ubiquitous computing
  • Privacy
  • Gender
  • Age