Challenges and opportunities in onboarding smart-home devices


Chixiang Wang, Liam Cassidy, Weijia He, Timothy J. Pierson, and David Kotz. Challenges and opportunities in onboarding smart-home devices. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (HotMobile), pages 60–65. ACM, February 2024. doi:10.1145/3638550.3641137. ©Copyright ACM.


Smart-home devices have become integral to daily routines, but their onboarding procedures - setting up a newly acquired smart device into operational mode - remain understudied. The heterogeneity of smart-home devices and their onboarding procedure can easily overwhelm users when they scale up their smart-home system. While Matter, the new IoT standard, aims to unify the smart-home ecosystem, it is still evolving, resulting in mixed compliance among devices. In this paper, we study the complexity of device onboarding from users' perspectives. We thus performed cognitive walkthroughs on 12 commercially available smart-home devices, documenting the commonality and distinctions of the onboarding process across these devices. We found that onboarding smart home devices can often be tedious and confusing. Users must devote significant time to creating an account, searching for the target device, and providing Wi-Fi credentials for each device they install. Matter-compatible devices are supposedly easier to manage, as they can be registered through one single hub independent of the vendor. Unfortunately, we found such a statement is not always true. Some devices still need their own companion apps and accounts to fully function. Based on our observations, we give recommendations about how to support a more user-friendly onboarding process.

Citable with [BibTeX]

Projects: [splice]

Keywords: [iot] [security]

Available from the publisher: [DOI]

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[Kotz research]