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HealthBand: campaigning for an open and ethical Internet of Things through an applied process of design fiction

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Abstract

This paper discusses the creation of a design fiction that seeks to embody Sterling’s (2005) spimes concept – near future, Internet-connected, manufactured objects. HealthBand is a fictional open-source wearable device born in a future where public healthcare has become increasingly privatised. Social equity and citizen empowerment sit at the forefront of its design – the product is the culmination of crowd-sourced expertise and production capital. We contextualise the fictional device in relation to current proprietary Internet of Things products, democratised and open technological practices like the Maker Movement, and two previously identified design criteria for spimes – synchronicity and wrangling. We assert that the fiction can help to begin to establish spimes as a useful rhetorical lens through which product designers can speculate upon more socially responsible and ethical technological product futures that offer plausible alternatives to the homogenised, unsustainable and profit driven product design cultures of today.