Internship Experience RISE


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 goal of this research project was to conduct a study on how it would feel if people got their carbon footprint instantly pointed out for them while they were living their daily live. It was a project that was stretching over two years and when I joined the project the task was to figure out how we would visualise and communicate the carbon footprint to the participants. It was a process with many concept sessions in multidisciplinary teams as well as rapid prototyping before building the final prototypes used in the study itself.


Talking about climate change and the personal footprint can be a sensitive topic and lead to increased anxiety. The biggest challenge during this project was to balance how much information to give and when in order to not overwhelm our participants but at the same time test how it would feel to get instant and detailed feedback linked to the participant’s behaviour.

Project Info

Fall 2016
6 months

Partner: Rise Interactive

Method: Design research, Interaction design, Speculative design, Wizard of Oz

Quantified self carbon footprint

How can a climate goal be manifested for an individual to increase understanding of the relationship between behaviours and the carbon footprint?

Concept with the three artefacts

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 everyday life. The feedback will be given on different levels. Firstly, when the participant generates co2e. After that, slower and more detailed feedback is given in the shape of a reflection at the end of the day.

To keep within the European 2020 climate goals you need to keep below 13,1 kg co2e 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.

These objects were developed to help the study going forward.

Information distribution in three steps

A personalised 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. We also decided to give information without any judgment, only facts. We discussed how to create a positive experience without unwanted information and instead give subtle feedback at the moment and then create a reflection moment when the time is right for the user. Therefore we decided to give only haptic feedback at the moment to get an overall feeling and then at the end of the day more detailed data to reflect on.

The three artefacts plus one coach

CO2e Artefact

The artefact is an ambient interface that shows the level of co2e 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’.

CO2e Pulse

The co2e pulse is a wearable that gives the participant instant feedback based on the activities the participant is doing that generates co2e. One pulse is given for every 100 g co2e that is generated. You can wear the pulse where you like on your body, for example as a necklace or around your arm.

CO2e Pulse

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.

CO2e Coach

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.

See all activities that generates co2e during the day

Compare your week

Ask questions or just share how you feel with your co2 coach

The CO2 Reflection Interactive Mirror Interface

In the co2e reflection you get the more detailed information from your day. You can see exactly what generates co2e through a co2 timeline based on activities, food, transportation, the house and sub activities. Your spill time is shown, if you went over your daily quota. In the week view it is easy to compare and reflect on the days. In every view 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.

The study

In order to track what the participants are doing they are wearing a camera that are live streaming to “the coach” (researchers). These video streams are then analysed and translated into feedback that is given to the participants through the artefacts. To manage to do this, we install electricity sensors, and calculate the data that we get from the camera. All based on our data base of co2 for each activity.

We are 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 analysing the co2 data and allowed us to give feedback from of the coach.

Sensors, wearable camera, CO2 Artefact, CO2 Mirror, CO2 Pulse

My Contribution

This is a two-year project and I joined the project in the middle part during the design phase. My role as a design intern was too be part of developing the result that are described here and driving the project forward. My main focus was to develop concepts and the design of the three artefacts. I worked together with creative technologist and developers to create the finished working prototypes. I also participated in interviews and in the five times five-day study.

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