Many products are marketed to us as being “sustainable” or “green” but how informed can you really be at the time of purchase? What if you could use your smartphone's camera to scan for relevant information? With the Transparency app, the user leverages machine learning technology to identify products and access information about the product's sustainability.
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Key insights for this project came from personal experience, combined with professional advice. For a few weeks last summer, I visited my Grandma and supported my family’s efforts to take care of her as she recently developed dementia. We developed a strategy with an occupational therapist who suggested that we use paper to write her reminder notes. I used to sit with my sketchbook and write her notes. For example writing, “Robbie is outside in the garden, he will be in before supper” helped her break negative cycles of thinking and feel more grounded.
How can design technology to help people uncover more information about the world around them?
Transparency leverages the smart phone camera to empower consumers with information about product sustainability. The app seeks to address an imbalance of power between consumer and producer.
These screen grabs shows how the computer has learned to decode images. For example, the software has identified the blue object as a book with 77 degrees of accuracy. Experimenting with this software informed our understanding of the possibilities and limitations of the technology.
The app opens in camera mode, encouraging the user to scan what they see.
Once the app has identified the product in question, the app displays metrics that are relevant to the products sustainability. A score is given based on metrics like water consumption, material sustainability rating and supply chain distance travelled.
After identifying the object in question, the app displays data about the products sustainability. Arranged in color-coded graphs and maps, the data is formatted in visual language.
Through my work, I am imagining a future where people like my Grandma, use technology to communicate, to function day-to-day and to live more grounded and fulfilled lives.
I have designed three features to accomplish this. I designed an interface that displays the time in relation to a routine event like weather, meals or sleep habits. The feature uses Google's existing text-to-speech software to display a live transcription of on-going conversation. The third feature is called idle animation. The system sketches automatically generating content that stimulates a connection with that moment in time. On a daily basis these custom features could promote greater independence and break negative cycles of rumination.
Potentially, this platform could help people access memories and habits that maintain a high quality of life. I believe that augmenting the brain function via personal computing will lead to a more fulfilling life for people living with dementia. With this consideration, the new watch face archetype will be more human than ever before.
We want users to engage with the environmental data. It can be difficult to imagine, how far a product may have travelled to reach you.
The app encourages users to engage with the product's supply chain footprint. A built-in incentive program gives users cash-back discounts after they have “walked off” a distance proportional to that of their purchase.
Once people understand the data in physical terms they are more informed to make a a positive choice. This tool helps consumers to make purchases on their own terms. It opens a line of dialogue between producers and consumers.
The app creates a responsive marketplace where consumers can request the information the need to make an informed decision.
Elena tries VR with her family and is able to recall her time as a gymnast in Russia dancing in the red square parades (a factoid her granddaughter was surprised to learn).
After the experience, Elena asks for help to stand up out of her bed, something she generally is reluctant to attempt, although recommended by her physiotherapist.