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Aretha: A Respectful Voice Assistant for the Smart Home

William Seymour‚ Max Van Kleek‚ Reuben Binns and Nigel Shadbolt


Despite being novel and convenient, voice assistants have brought with them a myriad of privacy and security related concerns. Previous research has shown how the ubiquitous nature of data collection combined with the lack of controls available to users can lead to apathy and dejected acceptance of the status quo. In this paper we present the design of Aretha, a speculative voice assistant that radically shifts the power balance in the smart home. Aretha is able to have conversations about privacy and security with users, helping them to change and adapt their preferences over time. These preferences can then be enforced using network-level controls, effectively retrofitting good behaviour to existing devices.

Living in the Internet of Things: Cybersecurity of the IoT Conference