PEOPLE project and UK case study presented at the Thames Valley IoT MeetUp

  • IoT MeetUp, Thames Valles, PEOPLE project, UK case study, Maria Salaru

On the 20th of June, an audience of eighty Internet of Things (IOT) engineers, electronics designers and consultants were introduced to the PEOPLE Project at the Thames Valley IoT Meetup in Reading, UK.  Maria Salaru, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology from Durham University, illustrated how anthropologists can work in industry to improve products and services that meet the true needs of their customers. Her talk argued that understanding people should become an indispensable phase of industrial development processes, in order to address people’s needs and lead to sustainable innovation.

Thames Valley IoT MeetUp, Maria Salaru, PEOPLE project, UKcase study, Kemuri, Durham University
Maria Salaru, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology from Durham University

Maria explained how the PEOPLE students became involved with Kemuri in the development of their multi-sensor power sockets and automatic alerting of changes in patterns of activity of older people living independently (read more about the UK case study in our blog posts here and here, while all four PEOPLE case studies are presented here).

The key student findings presented were related to the language used by developers compared to the understanding of customers. For example:

  • Kemuri services are aimed at “old” and “vulnerable” people but many of them did not perceive these qualities in themselves;
  • Although many recognised the value of “keeping an eye on someone”, when the term “monitor” was used it often met with uncertainty or suspicion;
  • Telecare, a term used universally in the industry, was unfamiliar to research participants and can limit the reach of the service.
PEOPLE project, IoT MeetUp, Durham University, UK case study, Kemuri
UK case study: visit at the Kemuri factory

The presentation, which was outside the normal experience of the attendees, was well received and attracted interesting questions about the relationship between innovation and change in behaviours.

Duncan Purves, the MeetUp organiser, gave the following feedback after the Thames Valley IoT MeetUp:

Maria, I had great feedback from attendees about your presentation – there was a lot of interest and you made some people laugh (in a positive way) – always a good thing when giving presentations.  I appreciate your contribution to making the Meetup a success.



Read the students’ reports on all four case studies, conducted in the PEOPLE project’s 1st Learning Cycle and focusing on applying social science approaches to industry challenges in energy efficiency and sustainability, in our latest issue of the PEOPLE Newsletter (PDF).