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Frog Design’s Sonny King on ‘Privacy by Design’ in Intelligent Environments

Frog Design’s Sonny King on ‘Privacy by Design’ in Intelligent Environments

Sep 13, 2021

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"When we think about our society's future, we're going to continue to embrace new technology," said Sonny King, Executive Technology Director for frog design, an award-winning design studio based in San Francisco. He was speaking to Orchid's Derek Silva on this week's episode of the Priv8 podcast.

"There are opportunities for us to think about how we use technology to optimize the environment around us. Part of that is giving ourselves the sense of 'environment' in virtual spaces that physical space used to give us."

But in order to make these virtual environments and experiences secure, privacy must be built-in from the time of inception—a concept called "privacy by design."

"One of the components of 'privacy by design' is context versus data awareness," Sonny said. "You can create a context that is valuable to a user without needing to know anything about the user. You might need to know something about their presence—meaning, the fact that there is a user.

"But you don't necessarily need to know who the user is, or their perceived relationship with the environment you've created. For example, if you're the creator of an intelligent open mall environment, and the mall knows it's going to rain, a pretty simple example would be automatically deploying awnings."

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But the questions around user privacy and data-driven experiential design become more challenging when environments are more complex—for example, in Disneyland, where frog recently worked on creating hybrid moments designed to enhance the park experience for visitors.

"We knew that with the power of technology, we could create and leverage the concept of digital identity—so, for example, we could make it possible for Disney characters to greet each child by name," Sonny said. "This had the potential to create a moment of joy and delight for the child's family, which adds value to their experience. But when we involve the concept of digital identity with clients, we need to think about privacy, and the value exchange between the use of personal identity and the end customer's experience."

So must there be a trade-off between using personal data to optimize experience and privacy? No, said Sonny. However, designers must be intentional about how personal data is used and protected. In Disneyland, this meant "giving people the opportunity to establish the way that they want to interact with the park, and then using that information to create magical moments for families—and not using it for anything else."

Check out Derek's entire conversation with Sonny here. And don't forget to subscribe to Priv8 Podcast on your favorite streaming service.

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