The Research and its Implications



The HAT project is a £1.2m multi-disciplinary project funded by the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Digital Economy Programme. It involves 7 academic investigators (check us out) with a team of researchers from the domain of Economics, Business, Computing and the Arts across 6 UK universities of Warwick, Surrey, Nottingham, Cambridge, West England and Edinburgh.

The project’s objective is to create the HAT (Hub-of-All-Things), a Multi-Sided Market Platform (MSMP) for connected services and products through a home information hub powered by the Internet-of-Things (IOT).

This is a market platform of services, products and data: the HAT would facilitate the purchase of new offerings to help with the connected parts of our lives within the home e.g. linking financial, health or nutrition data or water, energy and our house. It would also facilitate data exchanges since we may be willing to share our energy use, if we know we will get in return, a service that tells us when energy use could be cheaper.

The outcome of the HAT project is therefore A MARKET (think of a bazaar of buyers and sellers). It is the first project that would attempt to engineer and emerge a LIVE market right in the home that currently do not exist, consisting of real products/services, real money, real data and real people, powered by the IOT.

This market will be created based on collecting primary data on individuals consumption, behaviours and interactions and exchange data for future products and services.

The data collected from the IOT (and the Internet of everything) will allow the research team to explore dependencies between industries such as medicine, energy and food. The team will then develop algorithms to mathematically embed context into data, facilitating the creation of almost limitless new business models and data-driven innovation for software, appliances and objects within the home, enabled by the platform.

The HAT takes a service-dominant logic approach, which would give us insights into value creation and therefore inform what future offerings could be designed to play a role in value creation, and how new offerings could serve contexts of lived lives better.

In short, the HAT project takes a revolutionary approach of putting the person as central to data, design and innovation of future offerings, creating a home platform where a market to exchange our personal data for new products and services personalised for our needs could exist. This approach is taken over 5 stages:



Stage 1: HAT as digital data vault

We provide an opportunity for individuals to own a repository of our personal data (why is this important) by creating the first ever digital data vault in the form of a technological device a HAT (Hub of all Things). Technically, the device could also connect securely into a cloud space, so it may or may not be kept locally depending on the individuals choice of the HAT provider (i.e. the digital milliner).


Stage 2: HAT for discovery of contextual archetypes

We then place the HAT into the homes of several researchers (yes, we are the digital persons zeros who donate our body (of data) to science.

Through ethnographic research, we discover the social contexts of our home lives and narratives of contextual archetypes e.g. making tea, family after dinner chats, taking medicine. This helps us to understand qualitative contextual archetypes, which allows us to adopt a sensing and measurement strategy e.g. putting sensors on things and places such as:

  • Thing 1s electrical objects with connectivity e.g. Printers, TV
  • Thing 2s – objects/places that are not yet digitally visible so will need to be animated.

Using the data collected through these sensors, we can create digital visibility of the contextual archetypes of our lives. This allows us to reconstruct the rich understanding of lives through that digital visibility.

The HAT then becomes populated with our contextual and interactional data. This becomes our digital skills and labour, which, as an analogy to traditional labour and labour economics, could hold potential worth.


Stage 3: Creating HAT algorithms and business models

We then take the first step to creating potential worth of our own data by deriving the relationships between things and people, through econometric and mathematical economics modelling. These relationships are then developed into HAT algorithms that mathematically embeds context into data. This means we will understand lateral dependencies between vertical industries of objects (e.g. medicine, water, energy, food) (more here)


Stage 4: HAT as MSMP and Trust Broker

Then we give all our algorithms and business models knowledge away for free!

This is so that many products and services could be created on the HAT. This will transform the HAT to function not just as a digital data vault but also as a Multi-Sided Market Platform (MSMP) on which offerings sit to serve us at home.

To ensure our personal data remains private, these offerings will have to adhere to a HAT-certified privacy and security infrastructure policy and a no-export rule on individual data. These are legal contracts with the individual, matched and fulfilled by the technology put in place. The HAT therefore also becomes a trust broker.

Current project partners (which include vacuum cleaners, lightbulbs, household products, software and IT companies) will receive first-hand information on the project to help them innovate for the future, connecting their offerings to the HAT. Contact us if you’d like to join us as a project partner.


Stage 5: Completion and Exploitation

Finally, the technology of the HAT is given away for free! (Well, it was open sourced technology anyway  )

This is because we would like individuals to have many choices in terms of who should be your HAT provider at home. It could be your energy meter, your router, your set top box, your game console; even your fridge door could have a HAT embedded in it!

The project plans to scale HAT adoption through the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation at WMG, University of Warwick, working with any company who wishes to be a digital milliner.

The combination of Intellectual Contributions, the Software Platform, Experiments and Public Engagement will be documented and reported through the project website and social media, as well as through the WMG Innovators Forum.

As the HAT is also a trust broker, certification (HAT-certified) will play an important role in the project to ensure that individual privacy is preserved, the data vault is secure and no company gets naughty with our data personal data. We will be exploring options such as setting up a foundation similar to Fairtrade.


Implications of the Research

The implications of the HAT are profound for the individual, as well as for businesses supplying products and services.

  • The HAT digital vault (which could be server-at-home, cloud-based or a hybrid of the two) will store all data collected in the home. Crucially, all data generated by the individual is owned by the individual. This means that the data worth in every sense from a vertical dataset (such as consumption of medicine) to the relational dataset (such as the linkages between several objects e.g. food, fitness and medicine) is owned by the individual.

It can only be used with explicit permission from the individual  for the time period stipulated by the individual.

Such data could be exchanged with firms for personalised products or services that would enhance lives, and could inform and empower individuals for better decisions and behaviours.

  • The HAT is also a data hub for manufacturers, a platform where they can place the use data of their objects to be integrated with data on individuals’ interactions and lives, to enrich the individuals personal dataset. This personal dataset could in turn be exchanged with manufacturers through the HAT platform for greater innovation and continued relationships with customers through innovative manufacturing business models of the future.

This approach ensures that, for the first time, as individuals, we can benefit from, and ultimately exchange, the growing repository of data about our lives and habits with businesses who want to serve our needs and wants with their future offerings.

The HAT is therefore the first marketplace for the personal data economy, bringing together Internet companies as well as manufacturing communities.