QSCO2 is a project I was part of during my internship at Interactive Institute. It's a research project that explores how it would be to get instant feedback on our carbon footprint on a daily basis in relation to the 2020 climate goals. The project connects to the trend of quantified self and explores the possibility to give detailed information about someone’s carbon dioxide footprint on a individual level.
The total project is a two year project and I started in the middle part during the design phase. I was a design intern in this project and was part of developing that parts that are described here. My main focus was to develop and design the physical prototypes and the interface of the interactive mirror but I also participated in interviews and in the five times five day study.
Don't forget to check out the conceptual highlights!
and user study
How can a climate goal be manifested for an individual to increase understanding of the relationship between behaviours and the carbon footprint?
The concept consists of three parts that in different ways communicate to and support the users in the experience of getting their detailed carbon footprint in their every day life. The feedback will be given on different levels. Firstly, when the participant generates co2 e. After that, slower and more detailed feedback is given in the shape of a reflection at the end of the day. In order to keep within the European 2020 climate goals you need to keep below 13,1 kg co2 e per day. If the amount is exceeded this is communicated to the participant through what we call a spill time. This spill time is designed and thus shown in different ways in each part of the three parts.
The three parts
CO2 e Artefact
The artefact is an ambient interface that shows the level of co2 e in comparison to the daily quota, the inner cylinder, and overflow, the outer cylinder, if the quota is exceeded. The overflow symbolizes the 'spill time'.
CO2 e Pulse
The co2 e pulse is a wearable that gives the participant instant feedback based on the activities the participant is doing that generates co2 e. One pulse is given for every 100 g co2 e that is generated. You can wear the pulse where you like on your body, for example as a necklace or around your arm.
CO2 e Reflection
The co2 e reflection is an interactive mirror that gives time for reflection and that shows detailed information about the carbon dioxide emissions from the day and week. The spill time is shown as a clock that stops when the spill time occurs.
If the participant has any questions or reflections during the study it's always possible to contact the coach. The coach tries to answer any questions and is there as a support in time of difficult choices or thoughts.
In the co2 e reflection you get the more detailed information from your day. You can see exactly what generates co2 e through a co2 timeline based on activities and sub activities. Also your spill time is shown, if you went over your daily quota.. In the week mode it is easy to compare and reflect on the days in the week. In every mode it is possible to shout out your feelings and thoughts about a certain day or activity. You will then get an answer from your coach.
These objects where developed to help the study going forward. In order to track what the participants are doing they are wearing a camera that are live streaming to the coach. These video streams are then analysed and translated into feedback that is given through the artefacts of the concept. The data that is measured all fits in the categories: the food, way of transportation and the house. To manage to do this, we install electricity sensors, and calculate the data that we get from the camera based on our data base of co2 for each activity. We are also using the wizard of oz method. This is a method that allows a human to control a system that the user believes is autonomous. In this case it helped us with the co2 data and allowed us to give feedback in form of the coach.
and design development
Pre interview with probes
A pre interview was done to get to know the participants and to collect information needed to conduct the study, both about living conditions and general knowledge about the participant's perspective on climate goals and co2 e. Before the interview the participants got a probe kit to play with and prepare for the interview.
We had many ideation sessions in different styles which after each session were summed up by means of ideation card. I came in to the project in the end of this phase.
We discussed and rated all ideas based on six different parameters. Addressing: co2 display, engaging, persuasive, feasibility, strength. Then we continued to develop the ones that got the highest score.
Concept development mock-ups
We developed some of the ideas with high scores further and built quick and dirty mock-ups to get an idea on how we could take these ideas further later on. Based on these ideas we chose to develop four of the mock-ups: The city's daily co2 and the idea that the co2 level flows over when the city reached its daily quote. Eco conscience that acts as your conscience in tough decisions. And the karma mirror where you can reflect and post your thoughts, all thoughts are then posted somewhere public to give a bigger impact. But also an idea with a co2 coach that coaches you in your daily life from a co2 perspective.
Three levels of information
This project focuses a lot about how to give information, when and how much. As the society is today, we have already an overload of information. A personalized and detailed carbon footprint can be sensitive and create a lot of climate anxiety. We didn't want to increase this for our participants by overwhelming them with too much feedback. One thing that also is essential to not increase the anxiety is to give feedback without any judging in it, only facts. We discussed how to create an positive experience without unwanted information and instead give subtle feedback in the moment and then create a reflection moment when the time is right for the user. Therefore we decided to give only haptic feedback in the moment to get an overall feeling and then at the end of the day more detailed data to reflect on.
We tested the concept on members of the studio, in order to try out the cognition to see how they perceive the concept and its parts. From them, we got a lot of useful feedback.
In order to try out the experience we had an experience prototype session where we acted out a scenario of a day and four different activities for test- users. One scenario for each data category and one for each part of the concept.
After refining the concept we started building the prototypes and try them out before handing them out to our participants. We wanted the aesthetics of the prototypes to feel minimalistic, neutral and honest. It was important, especially for the wearable that the design was gender neutral.
We fund out that there are a lack of detail and that the spill time are unclear.
We realised was that the haptics in the wearable were too complicated in different situations and it highlighted that we had to refine the interface of the interactive mirror.
Pictures from the process
This project was one of the most fun projects I have done. I realised while working with this that in order to create a user experience that is admirable you need to go through it and redo it many times. It can be so much more than the main purpose in a project. I learned to be more critical to what it actually is I am doing and to think about what is the foundation and what do we really want to get out of this project. Which is important especially in research projects like this.