GreenR

A smart product that helps you manage and dispose of personal waste correctly, and reduce the waste sent to landfills by providing the right information in an intuitive and effortless manner. 

OVERVIEW

There is a growing trend towards urban farming, with people wanting to live a more eco-friendly and sustainbale llifestyle. Urban Farming also makes use of any free land around cities, reduces transportation costs, and delivers fresh food right from the plant. 

Duration:

3 months ( Feb 2019 - May 2019 )

Team:

Shashank Jain  /  Vincent Cheng  /  Lauren Masey

My Role:

• Performed primary and secondary research through user interviews, ethnographic studies and journey map co-creation to understand the process of urban farming.

• Performed primary and secondary research through user interviews, ethnographic studies and journey map co-creation to understand the process of urban farming.

• Iteratively refined ideas through feedback and testing on various fidelity levels of prototypes.

• Lead visual design and storytelling presentation flow to present the solution

CHALLENGE

There is a growing trend towards urban farming, with people wanting to live a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. Urban Farming also makes use of any free land around cities, reduces transportation costs, and delivers fresh food right from the plant. 

How can we reduce Personal Trash?

/ Determining Scope

Of all the ways we generate waste....

We selected Improper recycling as it would have maximum effect on reducing trash

PROMPT

WHAT

How might we nudge people to Recycle trash properly to reduce the amount of Landfill waste ?

HOW

 

IDENTIFYING USER NEEDS 

/ Initital Assumptions

We think Recycling is Hard because of

Lack of Knowledge

Lack of Responsibility

Lack of Infrastructure

/ Ethnographic Study

We observed existing trash cans and peoples disposal habits for hours around our campus, and public spaces. 

Key Takeaways :

No consistent visual color language.

Unclear Information on receptacles.

Disposal as per prior knowledge

/ Intercept Interviews

We conducted intercept interviews, where we intercepted willing people on the road to have a quick chat about their recycling habits and thoughts.

Key Takeaways :

Try to recycle when they can.

Dont always have proper information

Dont have resources outside to properly recycle.

/ User Interviews

We conducted detailed in-person interviews with 9 people at their homes to understand in-depth their views, methods, and approach to waste management and recycling. We structured the interview in 4 broad segments as below.

General Information & House Tour

Greetings, explanation of the interview process, basic information about household, trash disposal, house tour.

Trash Inspection

Going through their trash receptacles, and observing, understanding and questioning reasons behind disposal decisions

Card Sorting Activity

A card sorting game to understand recycling knowledge. For items which participants were not clear about, they had to search for information regarding the same.

Information Seeking

Carryover from previous activity, to understand approaches and challenges in information seeking.

 

ANALYSIS

206

Observations

15

Themes

3

Archetypes

6

Insights

/ Themes

We organized all the information and observations we had from the interviews and grouped them under various themes they belonged to. Even in these themes, we started observing three different viewpoints, which helped us categorize our interview participants into 3 different categories they belonged to.

1. Low Waste Strategies

2. City Trash Management

3. Actions Taken to Recycle

4. Information Seeking Behaviour

5. Ease of Use of Trash Management System

6. Lack of Effort

7. Trash Contributors

1

2

3

4

6

5

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

8. System Improvement

9. Source of Knowledge

10. Lack of Information

11. False Knowledge

12. Lack of Care

13. Lack of Resources

14. Lack of Time

15. Source of Motivation

/ Archetypes

Through our interviews, we generated 3 archetypes based on their knowledge, effort and motivation to recycle: The Passionate, The Empathetic, and the Apathetic. Once we evaluated the benefits of pursuing each persona, we chose to focus on the Empathic as it would make the greatest impact. We looked at the Empathetic archetype as the bridge between the Passionate and the Apathetic. 

A bridge for knowledge, skills, and motivation

/ User Journey ( of the Empathetic )

We mapped out the waste journey for the Empathetic archetype, to identify the pain points in their recycling/waste disposal journey,

/ Pain Points & Insights

Confusing and Hard

to find information

Information is confusing and hard to obtain. There is no single point of search where users can get the exact information in the form they want

Missing Tools and Materials 

People don't have sufficient resources and tools to recycle properly.  A common problem was lack of space and proper segregation receptacles.

Lack of Motivation or Incentive

Some people lacked the motivation to follow through with recycling.  A minor inconvenience was enough to put everything directly in trash.

Social groups can be highly influential

People were heavily influenced by their friends and groups they were a part of. Some people also followed waste habits of their neighbours.

Habits form at a young age

Food and waste disposal habits formed at a young age. People believed what they were doing was right based on previous knowledge and assumptions.

Prior experience guides decision making

Similar to habits, if people get exposed to new things, they used that experience to make future decisions. It was a balance of habits and new knowledge.

 
 

HOW MIGHT WE ?

How Might We 

provide clarity on information for different cities with varying capacities?

How Might We 

provide people with the tools and materials they need to effectively sort waste?

How Might We 

How Might We 

shift people's learned behaviors?

motivate people to reduce their personal trash?

How Might We 

make information searching process seamless and intuitive?

How Might We 

leverage social groups to influence behavior change?

IDEATION

/ Brainstroming

Once we gained a deeper understanding of pain points and the insights through research, we brainstormed on how we can design for those using various ideation exercises like brainstorming, crazy-8's, concept gardens, quick sketches etc. From over 52 ideas we generated, we started grouping them under different themes.

We voted and discussed the ideas we thought had maximum potential and analysed their pro's and con's.  We decided to move forward with self-help recycling kiosks, as the idea had the highest impact in a short duration, and served to ease the pain points we had uncovered through our research. We began prototyping and refining the idea.

/ Iteration - Refining the Idea

Iteration 1 - Self Help Kiosks

Self help kiosks with a scanning panel and information screen. The kiosk would help you get information regarding correct disposal methods.

Pros:

  • Easy to use.

  • All information is available based on city and location. 

  • Software can be updated regularly

Cons:

  • Too big to be adopted into households comfortably.

  • Expensive and bulky makes it hard to be scalable.

  • Disposal process requires multi-step human effort.

  • Hard to fit into current trash infrastructure. Would require the installation of new  recepticles 

Iteration 2 - Self Segregating Kiosks

Kiosks with a single disposal tray. Image recognition used to identify waste, and an automated segregation process . The kiosk would ease the disposal processd and time

Pros:

  • Easy to use.

  • All information is available based on city and location. 

  • Can be updated regularly

  • Fast and single-step disposal process, with minimum human effort.

Cons:

  • Too big to be adopted into households comfortably.

  • Expensive and bulky makes it hard to be scalable.

  • Complexity of waste might make automated segregation hard to achieve/implement. 

Iteration 3 - Self Segregating Tray

A single disposal tray that can be attached to personal/ existing waste receptacles. This reduces cost and increases scalability and adoption.

Pros:

  • Easy to use.

  • All information is available based on city and location. 

  • Can be updated regularly

  • Fast and single-step disposal process, with minimum human effort.

  • Relatively smaller and easier to integrate into existing waste infrastructure.

Cons:

  • Big to be adopted into households comfortably.

  • Expensive and bulky makes it hard to be scalable.

  • Complexity of waste might make automated segregation hard to achieve/implement. 

Iteration 3 - Recycling Camera Device

A small camera and barcode scanner device that can be attached anywhere. Once connected to internet, it identifies waste items and conveys the disposal method to the user.

Pros:

  • Easy to use.

  • All information is available based on city and location. 

  • Can be updated regularly

  • Fast and single-step disposal process, with minimum human effort.

  • Very smaller and easier to integrate into any existing waste infrastructure or habits.

  • Can be easily adopted in households. 

  • Not bulky and scalable.

Cons:

  • Complexity of waste might make image recognition hard to implement. The machine learning algorith would get better with usage. 

It was interesting to see how through iteration, we reduced a self-help kiosk to a waste scanner that could fit into the pocket, making it more usable, integrable into various household needs, and economically friendly and affordable. 

One challenge was how to convey the correct disposal strategy to the user once the waste item has been identified. After exploring multiple options, we used colour coding on the device as a direct and fast method, and an app notification or voice assistants to convey complex information. 

/ Storyboarding

 

DESIGN

/ Introducing

GreenR

A smart device consisting of 3 parts - a camera, a barcode reader, and an circular light ring. It uses image recognition, with a bar code reader to identify waste items, and inform the users how to dispose those items

The user just has to place the waste item in front of the device. Once the device identifies the waste item, it informs the user the correct disposal strategy through different lights.

Color coding is used to convey information. This makes knowledge gain very quick and intuitive for the user.

But wait...

Trash isn't always so simple

/ Homepage

Clear information to make recycling easy.

/ Scanner

Scan waste items or barcodes for information on the go.

/ Community

Recycling community for ideas, motivation, and knowledge.

/ Maps

Maps to easily locate recycling centres.

/ Profile

Personal profile to track progress and stay motivated.

 
 

FUTURE DIRECTION

/ Measure Impact

When measuring the effects of implementing a user experience, we need to look at the intended outcomes of the design. A UX outcome is the change we see in the world because of implementing our design. I outlined some major impacts this product should make. Once the goals are identified, it becomes easier to define performance measurement metrics.

Impact on User

Faster access to correct & actionable  information 

Lesser trash generation and waste pickup charges.

Healthier conscience,

lower carbon footprint.

Impact on Business (City)

Less landfill trash and transportation costs.

More sustainable trash disposal models, healthier planet.

More efficient recycling input, lesser segregation cost.

/ Reflections

The design journey with my teammates and Prof. John Freach was a rewarding and enriching experience. We gained in-depth knowledge about the design process and learned how to overcome problems by research, design, and iteration.

  • User research forms the backbone of good design.

    Every design has a purpose and that is to reach the intended audience effectively. We spent a lot of time doing extensive research and understanding our users and the process in depth. The knowledge base we created proved to be extremely useful throughout the design journey, allowing us to make informed design decisions at each step.

  • The first design is almost always never a perfect solution. Iteration helps, and is essential.

    Explorations and re-iterations based and research and user testing is what plays a crucial part in determining how well the product would serve its users. Working and changing the design direction is better than letting the process stagnate.

  • Design is at its best when ideas are discussed freely.

    While working in a team, creating a productive and idea-oriented environment is crucial. It is important to be sympathetic and take constructive critique of all ideas, even if it is yours. When individuals are free to express, the ideas that sprout from the smallest of comments can make a huge impact on the product.

  • Defining the problem, documenting, and having clear goals matter.

    While working on a time-bound problem, and that is always, it is useful to have an idea of the project timeline. Timeline updates according to product evolution, but having an overview in mind gives context to each step. Documenting design decisions help maintain a progressive flow, and journey efficient and fruitful.

@2019 Shashank Jain  |   sjain@utexas.edu