The IMPRINTS researchers based at Northumbria University conducted 12 focus groups with the local community. Participants included teenagers, students, older adults, disability groups, refugees and people attending mental health support groups. A one day workshop was also held which involved young people and older adults, trying to understand generational perspectives on future identity management (IdM) scenarios.

Participants were asked to describe their feelings towards identity management technologies of the future. People were shown film clips, short videos, artefacts and props to encourage discussion. During the focus groups people were asked questions such as:

  • Would you like to use this in the future? 
  • Do you think this technology has any benefits? 
  • Why do you think someone might want to do this?
  • Who do you think would manage this kind of technology?

People were encouraged to talk about the taboos as well as their desires for various future IdM technologies. This inclusive design approach has enabled us to think about the needs and requirements for varied groups, and with this inclusive approach, we can identify a better solution for future IdM practises for everyone.

Probe Summary








Recognizr App/Augmented ID: visualizes the digital identities of people met in real life. With a mobile device and face recognition software it enables the user to discover selected information about the people around. All users control their own augmented appearance by selecting the content and social network links they want show to others





Odour recognition:  Reports are claiming people can be identified by their body odour. This odour is unique, and unaffected by things like dietary habits or washing patterns. Participants were shown a mannequin and asked to think about where they thought an acceptable place to scan somebody would be. An example given was if they were at an airport going through security.

Face recognition:  Technology company ‘Facebanx’ has developed a new online facial recognition solution that can enable banks, insurance and ID verification companies to reduce fraud and ID theft.

The video I will play shows a man trying to get insurance quotes online. He tries to trick the system by using fake names

Smart tattoo:  In the future, a tattoo could be used to identify people. Your tattoo could be individual to you, but you would need to show it to people. It would either look like traditional tattoos, only displaying the information under a specific light, or be completely invisible.

Vein recognition:  In the future, instead of having cards, paperwork, or even rings, people are designing technology that uses our bodies to identify us.

One way to do this is vein recognition. Each of us has individual vein patterns in our fingertips. Technology has been developed so we can be scanned and identified using our veins. This is said to be reliable, and a replacement for cards, PIN numbers etc.


Amaal microchip:  a video documents a man in Canada who has implanted himself with a microchip so he can open his car and flat without keys

Nightclub microchip:   a film of a nightclub which has been microchipping guests so they can pay for entry and drinks by scanning their arm. They have been implanted with an individual chip linked to their membership.

Alzheimer’s microchips:  a video reports an older couple in the USA, one with Alzheimer’s, who decide to be implanted with a microchip so they can be geographically tracked and identified if they went to hospital. The microchip stores information about their medical information

Authentication pill:  A new way to do tasks like unlocking our phones or logging on to computers has been suggested by taking a pill. This pill has a chip inside it. When you swallow the pill, the acid in your stomach activates it, and it creates a signal inside your body. This signal enables you to authenticate yourself with things like phones, computers, cars, doors.




QR Gravestone:  companies have developed QR tags for gravestones. The technology uses a QR code as a way to convey information about a friend or relative, and present it for others to see, in the form of a blog or Facebook page.

QR artefacts: As well as film clips, participants were presented with objects. One such object was a teapot fitted with a QR code. Based on a scheme being piloted in Oxfam stores, this technology allows donors to attach a QR code to their donated object using a free app on their phone and share the story behind the item for the next owner to discover.

QR scarf:  we have developed a silk scarf with QR codes printed onto it, which can hold information about the wearer of the scarf. The ‘QR code’ is similar to a barcode that can be scanned by a mobile phone. Once scanned, the mobile phone will open a web page. If you scanned the QR code on our scarf, it will direct you to our project website.


PsychicID aftefact:  The card enables a minimal amount of information to be disclosed during authentication for various services e.g. access to a nightclub, visiting the doctor. The aim of the PsychicID card is to reveal only the necessary information in the appropriate situation, yet provide a single card for all circumstances.

Google glasses:  ‘Google Glasses’ work like a smartphone, but are hands-free. The glasses connect to the internet, and use your voice to show information on the glass.

PlaceMe:  Placeme is a mobile phone application that has been described as ‘the smartphone assistant of the future’. It tracks your activities, location and environment, without you logging in or doing anything explicitly.

Google driverless car:  Google have developed driverless cars, which can be driven, apparently quite safely, without human intervention. The ‘driver’ just sits in the seat, but does not need to use any controls or do anything for the vehicle to navigate. Testing is ongoing, and Google are working with car manufacturers so cars could be built commercially.


RFID jewellery:  The jewellery presented to participants consisted of small 3D-printed white rings, all fitted with an RFID tag. In the future this type of jewellery will ideally be made into a genuine wearable item, with the ability to perform a number of tasks. ‘Emergency Medical Aid’ (EMA) jewellery has been designed by a member of our team, and is intended to help paramedics dealing with patients to identify a medical problem quickly by divulging their health information.

Biometric daemon:  A biometric daemon is a fictional device which holds the biometric properties of its owner (how you walk, how you talk). This daemon could be used as a token, instead of things like ID or bank cards, so you can prove your identity without the fear of losing the token. If you lost your daemon, it wouldn’t survive without you, and ‘die’, meaning your personal information wouldn’t be exposed anywhere.




Take this lollipop:  Take this lollipop is an interactive horror film and Facebook app, which brings viewers themselves into the film, through use of pictures and messages from their own Facebook profiles.

Lifelogging:  Life logging is a term to describe a person’s storage of digital information about their life. For example, a person might store all their e-mails, photographs, music, videos etc. on a personal computer. Gordon Bell, who lives in America, has done this for the last decade. He keeps records of where he goes, who he meets, what he says, reads and listens to. 

Quantified self:  As technology has developed and people are able to store lots of information on phones, cameras and computers, people have begun to document every aspect of their lives.

Pizza Order: The pizza order video comes from a futuristic world in which a pizza company holds detailed and personal information about their customers. The film clip portrays a customer calling the pizza delivery company and trying to order food, but is faced with a barrage of information about their health, finances and where they live which impacts on the food they are ‘allowed’ to order







Draw a Secret: prototype software used instead of a password, to help the owner gain access their mobile phone more securely. Each user can pick a personalised background, and then draw a doodle over the image. To gain access to the phone once ‘locked’, the user has to re-draw the doodle to prove they are the owner, and choose the correct background