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A Day in the Life

A visual narrative exploring this new, extended web of connected devices known as the Internet of Things

Photo of Erin Lucarelli
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Written by

Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

A woman sits in her living room at night. A smart thermostat rests on the wall behind her. It’s been 30 days since she last updated her device password, and she learns how she can quickly and easily take this action (see Sketch 2). The woman feels assured knowing the thermostat company has a dedicated hacking team probing the device for potential vulnerabilities, but is even more confident now that she’s added another layer of protection for herself. Innovation in technology has led to smarter, more efficient ways to navigate the connected world through the devices we carry, wear, or use in our homes everyday—but it also leaves us vulnerable to cyberthreats. My objective is twofold: by illustrating the omnipresence of the “Internet of Things” from one person’s POV, I aim to create awareness of the scale with which our personal data is collected in a relatable way. Secondly, I’d like to empower viewers to take control of their own cybersafety by layering in tangible, step-by-step solutions they can easily adopt into their everyday lives. My idea would combine a “human” and “expert” ethos through depictions of real events, in a straightforward style. By grounding the visuals in time and space, I hope to more easily communicate complex concepts to the widest audience. This idea also challenges people's assumptions that taking action against cyberthreats is for the tech savvy, only. Anyone who uses a smart device can/should feel empowered to protect themselves.

Sketch 2 (1,500 characters)

This is a storyboard for the “change password” instructional component. It would appear as a GIF or video within the sample image above. For next steps in this challenge, I would continue to create images (5-6) that highlight one woman’s daily routine, and the connected devices she uses throughout her journey (i.e. in the morning, at the park, with a fitness tracker—she adjusts her default privacy settings from “everyone” to “just me”). One application of this idea could be a responsive website / “slideshow” with more storytelling and fun transitions between vignettes—but I’m open to suggestions! I’d also continue to refine this overall visual style further, with explorations into detail, dimension, texture, and color.

What have you learned through this sketching process? (1,000 characters)

I’ve discovered how little I know about the cybersecurity space, even as someone who uses (and designs!) interfaces everyday. Throughout this process, I’ve learned what’s missing—in the way of helpful, tangible suggestions for improving security there is plenty of lengthy text, but not much out there for visual learners.

Tell us more about you. (1,000 characters)

I’m a product designer.

Why are you participating in this Challenge? (750 characters)

I’ve just started exploring the role that cybersecurity plays in my own work, some of which consists of designing interfaces in which people’s personal information is captured and stored. I can’t wait to dive deeper and learn more about this timely, important topic. I’m hoping this challenge will help me make better design decisions, and in turn help people stay more secure.


What is your experience with the field of cybersecurity?

  • I have never worked in cybersecurity before but am excited to learn more and get involved.

What best describes you?

  • I’m a professional visual creator affiliated with an organization.

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO email / social media

Location: City

San Francisco

Location: State / District


Location: Country

  • United States of America


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dima Boulad

Welcome to the challenge Erin Lucarelli and thank you for your contribution! I like how you use a design research technique to illustrate your concept. Would these sketches be turned into a motion piece? How would you consider pushing your sketches further? We've had a large number of very interesting submissions so far and we will be going through them one by one in the Review phase. In the meantime, we invite you to browse other submissions and join the conversation around cybersecurity on the platform!

Photo of Erin Lucarelli

Hi Dima Boulad —

Thanks for your comment! There is plenty of room for improvement here. One question I’d like to answer in a future iteration is: "Why should I care?" This sketch demonstrates "how" someone can make their data more secure, but does not shed light on the risk involved in not taking action. Moving forward, I would address the following:

“What” — What is the existing risk? e.g., My smart device may be insecure because my password is out of date.
“Why” — Why is this important to me? e.g., My security camera could become hijacked, exposing my property to theft.

One way to visualize risk could be to turn the composition into a triptych with red, yellow, and green overlays, indicators, or icons. Red symbolizes a scenario with the most risk (e.g., using a weak password and never changing it), yellow is more secure but still carries some risk, and green is the most secure. Another way to visualize this concept could be a progress bar (30% secure, 60% secure, 100% secure). Incidentally, this is a common pattern used in account password creation to show password strength.

Another way I’m considering pushing the visuals further is to abstract them a bit more, or explore other ways to make them seem more universal, without losing the human element. (Is it exclusionary to include an image of a sofa inside a home? Could the vignettes feature different people, instead of just one? Could there be hands instead of bodies? Are there any internationalization considerations?)

Motion is definitely on the table! Motion/movement would be helpful to illustrate how-tos in a visually compelling way, and animated transitions between scenarios would help show the passage of time. Finally, since my original thought was to make this into a shareable digital resource, I would consider exploring a mobile-friendly format for faster circulation.