NeTS-NBD: Collaborative Research: Human-Centered Networking for the Home

Grants and Contracts Details


B. Project Summary Home broadband adoption in the US and abroad is growing, and fueling an increase in home networking. The economic and societal gains to be had from ubiquitous broadband adoption are potentially huge. However, despite obvious interest on the part of home users, concerns about complexity of home networking hinder the more widespread adoption of broadband technologies. Significantly, people cite complexity of the technology as being the key impediment to adopting home networking technologies. The networking architecture in the home today is not significantly different than that of the 1970's minicomputer era, which assumed trained network administrators to deploy and manage networks. Thus, end-users today must be exposed to concepts-IP addressing, subnet maks, routers, firewalls, and so forth-which are more properly the domain of skilled network administrators. We propose to lower the barrier to the adoption and use of home networking by designing human-centered networking technologies that support end-users in their networking tasks. Specifically, this project will combine research from both Networking and Human-Computer Interaction to develop and evaluate a new networking architecture for the home, as well as tools built upon this architecture. The overall goals of the work are to (i) understand the sources of complexity and user frustration in home networks, (ii) extract core architectural principles that promote simple, usable, robust, and secure networks in environments that share the unique characteristics of the home, and (iii) develop and evaluate architectures and tools that embody those principles. Successful execution of this project will fuel the diffusion of broadband technology and the applications it makes possible. Intellectual Merit The intellectual merit in this proposal derives from its interdisciplinary collaboration between Networking and HCI research. This means that we ground the requirements for our architecture in empirical studies of the current practices, needs, and mental models of home networking users; the efficacy of resulting designs will be evaluated through both user- and network-centric techniques. This synthesis of techniques from both disciplines is necessary for addressing the deep usability problems of home networking. The network architecture we develop as a part of this proposal represents a new approach to achieving demonstrably better usability for end-users, by providing intuitive device provisioning, easier creation of trust associations among devices, more robust device discovery facilities, and user-appropriate tools for monitoring and management of the home network. Broader Impact The sheer number of home users who now cope with their networks makes the impact of this proposal broad. By making it possible for end-users to provision, configure, and manage their networks, we can facilitate the adoption of applications that require sophisticated network infrastructures, and consequently begin to realize economic and societal gains associated with the next wave of computing innovations. Not only do we expect impacts in terms of usability and economic effects, we also believe that the combination of Networking and HCI research will advance the state of the knowledge about how to design networks that are innately easy to use by unskilled users. In addition, the architectural insights we develop for home networking can be expected to apply in other contexts (e.g. small businesses) as well. The results of this work will be integrated into coursework, research projects, and degree programs at the two collaborating universities, and will influence the training of both Networking and HCI researchers and professionals. TPI 6569542
Effective start/end date9/1/068/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $186,583.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.