We are actively engaged in several research activities around the topics of digital consumption:
– We are part of the COST action Sharing & Caring as a member of the management committee as well as in the context of working groups.
– We are conducting studies on the usage of digital services, such as smart mobility, smart food consumption, and interaction with smart assistants within the context of a new field, consumer informatics.
– We are currently building a scientific community for discussing issues around digital consumption in the form of a workshop series. The first workshop has been held in the context of the WI 2019 conference, with the next instance planned for 2020.
The spread of digital services and artifacts does not only lead to a change of work environments (such as in the context of Industry 4.0), but also changes the way private households consume and interact with providers of services and goods. Especially fields such as food, housekeeping and mobility are increasingly affected by “smart” digital services and devices: online trading is gaining traction for all kinds of private purchases, shareconomy-platforms allow for new forms of prosumption, and KI & Big Data offer opportunities for increasingly individualized and personalized products and services.
Current innovations in the field of digital consumption open new consumer worlds and change the way people interact with companies. At the same time, they pose questions regarding data protection and digital sovereignty of consumers, digital divides in the usage of digital services, as well as sustainability of digitally enhanced or mediated consumption practices on the levels of society, economics, and ecology. Answering those questions requires a trans-disciplinary approach.
One example of an ongoing research activity is our newly started project CheckMyVA, where we are studying the use of voice assistants. Devices such as Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa or Apple Siri are currently spreading into private households. In a pre-study, we have investigated how such devices are used in the context of daily life, and how users perceive the implications on their privacy and digital autonomy. In the project, we are now building a living lab for co-developing tools with users for visualizing data from GDPR takeouts, in order to help owners of voice assistants to engage with the data that is collected by the devices.