Supporting the Design of Sustainable Electronics
Electronic devices have a rapid turnover cycle, such as mobile phones that are being replaced every year, which results in environmental problems (e.g., electronic waste). However, this Disposable Technology Paradigm is a development that was facilitated by the technological advancements of Ubquituous Computing and intensified by the industry through planned obsolescence.
As a first step, we investigated which factors are important to people when buying consumer electronics devices. Our research revealed that due to complexity of and trust issues in environmental information the impact of such knowledge, sustainability is not an important factor when buying consumer electronics [CHI workshop paper]. However, a closer look at the decision-making process in light of existing models from marketing research reveals that there are several other perspectives and stages to address said problem [interactions article].
We therefore believe that Sustainable HCI research can help turn around this development by encouraging longer use and foster attachment between devices and their respective owners. Using the personal inventories method, we investigated the reasons for them to keep these objects. We expanded the existing framework for attachment categories and applied it to the domain of electronics. Furthermore, we provided a professional designer with the framework and asked to sketch ideas for new electronics products that create emotional attachment between the object and its owner [UbiComp note] [DIS paper] [MSc thesis].
One of the inherent problems preventing longer use of electronic devices is obsolescence. Sustainable HCI is aware of this problem and there exist a variety of guidelines and principles to address this issue [book chapter]. However, there remains a theory-practice gap: those guidelines are rarely put to practice. We aim to bridge this gap by bringing this Sustainable HCI design knowledge to real-world designers.[CHI paper], [CHI Doctoral Consortium]
At the same time, the question arises how industry should adapt such theoretical knowledge from Sustainable HCI, as it seems to go against their own interest. In the end, electronic waste is a product of the industry's goals to sell more. While this might certainly be true now (and we don't have a definite answer to the question yet), this might not stay true forever: all this growth is based on resources, and those resources are finite. Therefore, we discussed how SHCI research will change in a future of resource scarcity and limits at the first LIMITS workshop at UCI Irvine in June 2015. [Article in First Monday's Special Issue on Limits 2015]
- Christian Remy and Elaine M. Huang, Limits and Sustainable Interaction Design: Obsolescence in a Future of Collapse and Resource Scarcity. In First Monday, Volume 20, Number 8, Special Issue "Limits '15", August, 2015.
- Christian Remy and Elaine M. Huang, Limits and Sustainable Interaction Design: Obsolescence in a Future of Collapse and Resource Scarcity. In LIMITS '15: First Workshop on Computing within Limits. Irvine, California, USA, 2015.
- Christian Remy, Silke Gegenbauer, Elaine May Huang, Bridging the Theory-Practice Gap: Lessons and Challenges of Applying the Attachment Framework for Sustainable HCI Design, In: CHI’15: Proceedings of the thirty-third annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, ACM, New York, 2015.
- Christian Remy, Addressing Obsolescence of Consumer Electronics through Sustainable Interaction Design, In: CHI’15: Extended Abstracts of the thirty-third annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, ACM, New York, 2015.
- Christian Remy and Elaine May Huang, Addressing the obsolescence of end-user devices: Approaches from the field of sustainable HCI, In: ICT Innovations for Sustainability, Springer, Heidelberg/New York, p. 257 - 267, 2015.
- Christian Remy and Elaine May Huang, Addressing the Obsolescence of End-User Devices: Approaches from the Field of Sustainable HCI, In: Conference on ICT for Sustainability (ICT4S), 2014.
- Christian Remy, Elaine May Huang, Tailoring sustainable HCI design knowledge to design practice, In: What have we learned? A SIGCHI HCI and Sustainability community workshop, at CHI 2014, 2014.
- Christian Remy and Elaine M Huang, The Complexity of Information for Sustainable Choices, position paper at the workshop Simple, Sustainable Living at CHI 2012.
- Christian Remy, Taking a note from marketing research in sustainable HCI, ACM interactions, Vol. 20 (3), 2013.
- Silke Gegenbauer, Elaine May Huang, iPods, Ataris, and Polaroids a personal inventories study of out-of-use electronics in Swiss households, UbiComp 2012.
- Silke Gegenbauer, Elaine May Huang, Inspiring the design of longer-lived electronics through an understanding of personal attachment, DIS 2012.
- Silke Gegenbauer, The nature of people’s attachment to objects - how emotional ties can help inform the design of electronic devices, University of Zurich, Faculty of Economics, 2011.
- Elaine May Huang, Building outwards from sustainable HCI, ACM interactions, Vol. 18 (3), 2011.