Smart Home Research

Identifying Smart Home Automation Rules through Network Traffic Analysis

Curious what your smart devices do throughout the day? Participate in our study and find out!


We are a group of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and New York University working on understanding the security and privacy risks posed by smart home IoT devices, such as Amazon Echo, Philips Hue, Smart Refrigerators, etc. Smart devices like these allow users to design and install automation rules in their homes. For example,

  1. "Turn the lights ON after 7pm"
  2. "Set Air Conditioning to 65 F when the thermostat reads 80 F"

The goal of this study is to collect the network traffic generated by the smart devices installed in smart homes to study if it is possible to identify when users interact with the smart home devices, either directly (i.e. through a voice assistant or an app) or indirectly (i.e. by setting automation rules in the houses).


Participate and win $50!

Participate in the study and earn a $50 Amazon/VISA gift card.

To be eligible for the study, participants:

  1. must have 3 or more smart home devices. Here is a list of popular smart home devices: (This is not an exhaustive list, but it will give you a good idea of what smart devices are.)
  2. must be willing to install a small palm-size device we send, to their router, for collecting network traffic.
  3. should be willing to either share with us their existing home automation rules or install new home automation rules for the duration of the study. If participants have an IFTTT account, they can install our extension to share the rules they have installed in their homes.

Note This study will be conducted over a period of six weeks but no active participation is required of the participants after installing the device in their houses.

User Study

Participants for this study will be selected based on their responses obtained from completing our screening form.

As part of this study, we will ask participants to install a device shipped to their homes by us, in their homes. Apart from installation, this study does not require participants to perform any experiments on their own. Participants are however, expected to interact with their smart devices throughout the study as they normally do. Participants would only be required to submit 2 survey forms and communicate with the research team once before & once after the study ends. Although they may be required to do weekly check-ins only if neccessary.

Below we have summarized the participant involvement required during different stages of this study:



Have more questions? Contact us at

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Will I reveal any sensitive information through my participation in the study?
  2. No, you would not be revealing any sensitive information while participating in this study. We will not collect any personally identifiable information. Additionally, all other data collected during the study will encrpted.

  3. How much time do I have to spend for the study as part of my participation?
  4. You will only be required to spend an approximate of 1-2 hours before the study begins and after completion, interacting with the research team. This includes device installation, signing the consent form and shipping the device back to the team. Additionally, we may do weekly check-ins (about 10-15 minutes) with you to make sure that the device is working as expected.

  5. What happens if I damage the device?
  6. You would be required to ship the device back to us which will be covered by us. If you want to continue participating in the study, we will ship you a new device and continue with the study. Also, you do not need to pay for the new device.

  7. Do I need to be at home during the entire duration of the study?
  8. Yes, you or someone from your family will be required to be present at home and interacting with the smart devices. You will only be compensated if there is an active interaction with the smart devices throughout the duration of the study.

  9. If I want to leave the study before completion, can I do so?
  10. Yes, you may leave the study before completion but note that you will only be paid for the duration of your participation.