INOV - Sociétés innovantes : innovation, économie, modes de vie

Habitele. Wearable digital identities – HABITELE

Submission summary

The project aims to test a new conceptual framework that can account for the technological revolution in mobile communications. The change of scale (2/3 of human beings gaining access to mobile communications within the span of 15 years) forms the basis of a new collective climate, and of a new kind of common world. Connection is important because it creates the awareness of “being connected”, and changes the state of mind: we inhabit a new personal data ecosystem, which we call “Habitele”.
Habitele is used to label the various distant connections with various social worlds that we are able to handle by carrying devices (phone, credit cards, IDs, keys and access cards) and traces that keep us in touch with these worlds. The mobile phone is rapidly merging all our affiliations, traces and access into one device, which is carried close to the body. IDs in the cloud and permanent bodily access are what make the mobile phone a universal terminal (and not the PC): our digital identities become wearable, as a new envelope.

This general framework will be assessed through a carefully designed empirical investigation. Six hypotheses will be tested: 1/ is Habitele a personal process of globalization? 2/ Is Habitele a process of switching between social worlds, 3/ is Habitele a new attention regime based on alert and watch? 4/ Is Habitele a new understanding of privacy as shared? 5/ is Habitele creating a new kind of envelope as do “habit”, “habitat” and “habitacle” (in French)? 6/ Is Habitele generating an asymmetry of perception between companies and users with regard to the importance of privacy?
These hypotheses are already well documented from a theoretical standpoint, but require an empirical test with an international fieldwork (9 countries, including France), in-depth interviews (500 repeated twice), 45 case studies of typical use, data collection of personal behaviour (through extraction from the device), and mapping of connected social worlds.
The international comparison is an important ambition of the project and it will involve France, UK, USA, Canada, Brazil, Tunisia, Nigeria, India, Korea.
On the telcos and providers’ end, we will design a sociological experiment to test the propagation of (fake) personal data in violation of contractual limitations.

The project seeks to innovate in the field of social sciences by building on a strong relationship with computer scientists, a large international survey, a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection, and a strong theoretical stance. It may help the social sciences, computer sciences, businesses and administrative bodies to reconsider their understanding of mobile phones and to create input for different trends in innovation.

Project coordinator


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.



Help of the ANR 433,999 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2011 - 24 Months

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