Home and Leisure

Standard and Higher Level

  • The Home and Leisure chapter looks at technologies used in copyright infringement.
  • Evaluate possible solutions to copyright infringement
  • Evaluate the impacts of computer gaming
  • Explain how news and media is broadcast using IT.
  • Evaluate the effects of citizen journalism and social media
  • Explain how IT is used in digital preservation and restoration.

Smart Homes

Smart home technology, which is also sometimes known as 'home automation' uses Information Technology to improve convenience, security and energy efficiency of buildings. While the earlier modes of home automation were mostly prohibitively expensive, more affordable recent options such as Phillips Hue lighting, Samsung's Smart Things, and Google's Nest thermostats have hit the market. These devices along with digital voice assistants such as Amazon's Echo range, and Google's Home options have brought smart homes to the masses and it will continue to develop further as this technology is built into new houses that get built.

In terms of security, smart homes can incorporate technology such as Biometrics for scanning fingerprints or retinas to gain access to a house instead of regular keys. This method is more secure and reduces the issue of people losing keys. Another method employed by some companies is for home owners to have RFID bracelets that unlock doors as they get close to them. These RFID bracelets can also be used to help program smart devices in the home. For example, a user entering a room after dark wearing the bracelet could automatically trigger turning on the lights. These methods are usually put together with IFTTT 'recipes' (If This Then That). Domestic robots have also become more affordable, and more advanced as they are usually demonstrated using the Consumer Electronics Show (ces.com) in Las Vegas every year.

The main benefits of smart homes are to reduce the burden on human workload. Environmental and financial benefits can be achieved by intelligently regulating the use of energy within a home. Smart homes can also improve the safety for their inhabitants by monitoring the occupants activities and adapting the home to suit their preferences. Some people have concerns that smart homes will make us lazy by enabling more sedentary lifestyles.

Digital Policing

As the number of users on the Internet has grown, so has the number of people downloading illegal copies of copyrighted material. The main source of illegal downloading was via peer-to-peer networks, which is where users can access content on each others' hard drives directly. One company called Napster, which was focused on music files initially, became capable of sharing movies and TV shows or even software as the bandwidth of home users Internet improved. Napster was shut down in 2001 but other file sharing systems such as LimeWire and BitTorrent took off.

Due to the nature of the file sharing systems not having a centralised server, it was very difficult to target those responsible and prosecute them with the law. Napster was vulnerable as it had a central server with users and which files they possessed. Encrypted file sharing networks have made it even harder to police. The impact of file sharing is very hazy but it is estimated that Apple loses upwards of $300 million per year due to software piracy. The Business Software Alliance in 2011 estimated global lost revenue at around $59 billion.

Copyright Infringement

Various individuals have been targeted with notices from the authorities to cease their copyright infringing activities and governments have introduced legislation aimed at illegal file sharing. The UK's Digital Economy Act of 2010 included measures requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to identify people who persistently broke copyright laws and to take 'technical measures' against them, such as drastically reducing their Internet connection speed. Countries such as Singapore adopt a blacklisting approach to prevent access to those sites associated with copyrighting material.
Many software companies have started to use Digital Rights Management to control piracy. This prevents data from being duoplicated without permission, and is only accessed via an associated App Store location. Subscription based services have also alleviated the issue of software piracy by making software more affordable and to give users the latest upgrades without them needing to re-purchase the software.

Digital Entertainment

Gaming consoles have existed for many years, and in line with Moore's Law have continue to improve and become more affordable. Gaming has also spread to the mobile sector due to the fact that many smartphones these days are as powerful as small PCs. Enhanced Internet connectivty has also made the distribution of games more feasible. LAN games or games over the Internet have lead to Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) in which players compete in a virtual world as a representation of themselves. Second Life is an example of such a game, where users can spend money on virtual goods within the game to make progress.
Gaming addiction has become an issue with many users spending days on end playing computer games. 24 hour gaming cafes have also contributed to this addiction.

There are concerns about the violent content of games having an effect on users as well, with some documented cases of where people have tried to replicate the content of the game in real life. Augmented reality adds a layer of digital content onto the real world. Apple's animojis and FaceID cameras that allow depth sensing have become mainstream pieces of hardware now making augmented reality easier to deliver. Microsoft's Hololens product also allows this technology into people's homes.

Published and Broadcast information

Online News - Fast and up to date content available for users immediately. News outlets have lost revenue as online advertising does not generate the same revenue as print, but they must appeal to the masses. News aggregation sites exist that compile news from various sources into one location. Some news outlets have also introduced paywalls which gives some articles for free but forces users to pay for additional content or the final pieces of the article.
Citizen Journalism - With websites such as Twitter or Facebook live-streaming making it so easy for anyone to post content online, users can report events occurring in real-time, providing a first hand account of what is taking place.
Digital TV and Radio have emerged as popular destinations online. HD content can be streamed easily with a modern fast Internet connection, enabling companies such as Hulu and Netflix to offer Video on Demand services even with exclusive content.
E-Books - Kindle, Nook, Apple iBooks have brought books to many more people globally with their electronic distribution methods. Electronic Ink displays on devices like the Amazon Kindle ensure low power consumption to enable a battery last for days or even weeks. Selling affordable e-books as opposed to physical copies appeals to the public's love for convenience.

Digital Preservation

Physical copies of original works such as paintings, books, nitrate film roles, maps are vulnerable to physical decay due to their age. With the ability to turn these items into digital copies by scanning them into a computer, they can be stored, preserved and in some cases even enhanced (E.g. turning an old movie into a HD version). Digital restoration can even fill in the missing gaps in creations that have decayed so much that they have lost some content. Even physical locations can be digitally preserved by 3D laser scanning to build a 3D software image of the location or building.

Other Resources

Paper 1

Slightly different examinations for SL and HL, based on answering 20 mark questions on a selection of the course topics.

Paper 3

For HL students only, answering questions on the pre-seen case study. This year is 'A Doll Called Alicia'.

Extended Essay

Details and recommendations for students considering writing their Extended Essay in ITGS.

Command Terms

How to approach examination questions that use each of the prescribed command terms for ITGS.