University of Maryland

Smart Home Study (Summer 2021)

Note: Recruitment for this study closed on July 15, 2021. We will notify the raffle winner by the end of the month and begin reaching out to people to schedule focus groups soon. We are unable to talk with everyone who completed the screener survey but we appreciate you taking the time to complete it.

Do you use a smart speaker like Amazon Alexa or Google Home? Do you have a smart thermostat, smart locks, a Ring doorbell, and/or other “smart” devices in your home? Do you use an app to control the lights in your home, or to monitor a baby, or to check that you locked the door on your way out? If you answered yes to any of these questions and you live in the US, we want to talk to you! 

We’re running virtual focus groups this summer with people who use smart home devices to make their lives easier and manage their home efficiently. During the one-hour Zoom session, we’ll talk about what you like–and don’t like–about these devices, and also talk about how they learn about your habits and what happens to that data. We want to hear about what ways you might want to monitor the information these smart devices collect, and brainstorm ideas about what would help you best manage how smart devices collect and use data about your home. The virtual focus group sessions will be recorded but will only be accessible by the research team.

If you’re interested in participating, please complete this brief screener survey (, and we’ll be in touch to schedule you for a session if you qualify. Everyone who completes the survey will be able to enter a raffle for a $75 gift card, and all focus group participants will get a $30 gift card for their time. 

If you have questions about this project, please feel free to contact the principal investigators:

Dr. Jessica Vitak
University of Maryland, 4130 Campus Drive, College Park, MD 20742

Dr. Michael Zimmer
Marquette University, 1313 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee WI 53233

  • News

    July 2021: Vitak (along with Sarah Gilbert and Katie Shilton) published “Measuring Americans’ Comfort With Research Uses of Their Social Media Data” in the journal Social Media + Society.

    June 2021: Vitak and Zimmer had an extended abstract summarizing their workplace surveillance & COVID-19 work accepted to AoIR 2021.

    October 2020: Vitak and Zimmer published a study in First Monday on privacy concerns associated with the adoption of contact tracing apps.

    August 2020: Vitak & Zimmer were awarded a Rapid Response grant from SSRC to study how workplace surveillance is evolving due to COVID-19.

    January 2020: Vitak, Clegg, and Chetty were awarded a NSF Small grant for their work on developing privacy & security curriculum for elementary school children.

    May 2019: PhD student Kumar presented research from our kids’ safety project at CHI. The paper discusses how educators consider privacy and security when using digital technologies in the classroom. More info is here.

    March 2019: We won the Lee Dirks Award for Best Full Paper at the iConference! PhD student Liao was the lead author on the paper presenting survey results from our IPA study.