OpenDoTT (Open Design of Trusted Things)

OpenDoTT is a PhD programme from the Northumbria University and Mozilla to explore how to build a more open, secure, and trustworthy Internet of Things. This program will train technologists, designers, and researchers to create and advocate for connected products that are better, healthier and more people-centred.

The challenges of the Internet of Things (IoT) require interdisciplinary thinking. As IoT evolves, the internet becomes more deeply entwined in humans’ everyday lives. Data flows around us in ever more complex ways: wearable technologies monitor our heartbeat, AI voice assistants cohabit our kitchens and our children’s bedrooms, smart cities know our every move and facial recognition determines our access across country borders.

These technologies need to be built responsibly, and this practice requires the cultivation of design research and advocacy. OpenDoTT addresses this on a systems level. By training the very people who develop and influence IoT technology, we can create positive change that starts at the drawing board.

The program will be hosted across several locations with training by leading organisations in different fields. The doctoral researchers will begin at Northumbria University to learn about design research, and then move to Mozilla’s office in Berlin to focus on internet health. Throughout their studies, they will receive training on open hardware from Officine Innesto; field research from Quicksand and STBY; internet policy from the University of the Arts Berlin; responsible IoT from ThingsCon; and usable security from SimplySecure.

Northumbria University will lead training in design research, building on their world-class work on the Internet of Things, co-creation, and craft technology. The university’s past projects have explored the future of voice assistants in the home and IoT for independent retailers.

Mozilla will lead training around open technology and healthy internet practices. Mozilla focuses on fuelling the movement for a healthy internet by connecting open internet leaders with each other and by mobilising grassroots activists around the world.

Key Publications

Key, C., Browne, F., Taylor, N. and Rogers, J. (2021). Proceed with care: Reimagining home IoT through a care perspective. Proceedings of CHI 2021, ACM. doi:10.1145/3411764.3445602 (Honorable Mention Award)

Funding Details

Open Design of Trusted Things. European Commission (813508). Jan 2019–Dec 2022.