Finding new opportunities for e-waste

Project type
Degree Project, Research, Interaction Design, UX, Product Design, Interior Design
Year
2012
Duration
4 months
Credits
Brian Oko, sponsored by Electrolux and FABLAB Barcelona

Project Summary

The disposal of electronic waste is becoming one of the most menacing problems that the planet currently is facing. Tonnes of electronic waste is dumped illegally in developing countries. Consequently, the local people in those countries are exposed to levels of toxicity that could cause them serious illness as well as the degradation of the natural ecosystems. AMPLIFY was my final degree project, a service to repurpose, repair or reuse obsolete electronics. Let's navigate through how it became a concept.

Introduction

After long months of thinking about different ideas for degree thesis, I stumbled with a global problem, a problem that is ignored by us, inhabitants of this planet, the processing of our electronic waste and what encourages it, planned obsolesence. It was the perfect problem, broad as a giant octopus which would allow me to flex my design muscles.

Personal goals

As an Afro-descendant, raised in Europe, my goal was to create opportunities with waste generated in developed countries and alleviate, 1st the unnecessary traffic of electronic waste to underprivileged African cities and 2nd the environmental issues involved in the whole process.

The Research

It was important for me to observe how the e-waste was processed and identifying the role and interests of various types of stakeholders involved in processing it. Through shadowing the e-waste and interviewing the companies involved in the process, I understood that electronic waste logistics, processing, and recycling learnt, costly and invisible. insightful experience, I extracted design opportunities.

Direction

The concept consisted of setting up a responsible consumption movement towards electronic products based on giving the necessary tools to people to expand their functional life. The aim of the concept was to engage the people to learn about their obsolete electronics and socialise. The people who use the service would also have the opportunity to contribute to lower the environmental impact caused by landfilling electronic products.

Once the insights were shaped into a concept, a series of role-playing, followed by interview sessions were taken by people to validate the value proposition of the service and its features, in different scenarios. Please watch the video for more details about the testing process. The research collected during the testing led me to refine the concept's user experience.

Final Outcome

Amplify is a service which aims to create a sustainable electronics consumer culture by providing them with assistance, knowledge and necessary tools in order to increase the lifespan of their obsolete electronics. The service aids its customers to Re-purpose, Repair and Reuse their electronics; besides providing them with tutorials on how to do it. The cultural aspect of the Amplify's business was one of my main goals, therefore the skill level and subject knowledge were taken into account. The service encourages the participation of different types of user with a different skill level to complement each other's knowledge. Events like hackathons, held at Amplify's premises, considered the participant's proposals. Their actions were rewarded and levelling up, granted them access to new bonuses.

Visit prototype website
Visit the site prototype

Learnings

- Prepare your arguments and research
- Set the agenda to set the time of the meeting
- Create follow ups after each meeting to keep momentum