IntroductionThe ProblemThe SolutionUser ResearchIterationsReflection

Nurture low-carbon lifestyle through public & AR display

This project is accepted and published at CHI23 Student Design Competition (30% acceptance rate globally)
📄 See full paper here
3 months
CHI23 Student Design Competition
Encourage environmentally-conscious individuals to contribute more actively through community fostering
Roles and Resposibilities
UI/UX and AR interaction designer

•   UX research: survey, user interview, co-design workshop, affinity mapping, crazy 8, user evaluation
•   UX design: wireframing, high-fidelity prototyping, AR interaction design

The Problem

The competition's design brief was to design for one or several of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations. Focusing on Goal 11 and 13, we aimed to resolve young adults' frustrations in their efforts to lower their carbon footprint so they could contribute to the environment more effectively and regularly.

How might we better support young adults in order to foster effective and regular low-carbon habits in them?

The Solution

CO2LLAB is a concept platform that consists of a mobile phone app and a public display with built-in AR goggles. It allows the user to track, monitor and visualize their CO2e saving through their daily actions and contribute collaboratively with their schoolmates to offset the CO2e emissions of their university.

Rewarding experience

•   Offset university's CO2e emission through immersive AR interaction
•   View the community CO2e saving through lifesized representation
•   Receive rewards by popping the CO2e bubbles

Our Approach
Things I did
User interview
Affinity mapping
Persona building
Define user requirement
Crazy 8
Paper prototype
Low to high-fidelity prototype
Guerrilla testing
Design evaluation with think-aloud protocol
User Research
We used survey, user interviews, and co-design workshops to discover the breadth and depth of the issue. The research data collected showed that young people’s contribution toward environmental causes is hugely impacted by their schedule, social circle, and awareness of their impact. They also feel isolated in their effort, as most people are unwilling to share about their environmental contributions because of the fear being seen as bragging or a social warrior.
We then created two personas that captured the characteristic and attitudes of a typical user. We chose John Bose as our primary user because there’s more opportunity and gaps to be bridged with our product.
Iteration one
Low-fidelity Prototyping & Testing in the Wild
Through crazy 8, we generated two ideas that satisfy the product goals through every steps of the user journey. We then tested both ideas with low-fidelity prototypes on students passing through the main UCL campus and created a more defined product incorporating the feedback.
The user feedback revealed that:
✅   Users were excited to interact with AR visualisations
✅   They preferred a more intuitive way to show the community’s effort
✅   The community-wide collaboration inspired them to act more and share more
❌   They feel discouraged when seeing other people’s big contribution (e.g. starting a fund raising) because it made their effort seem insignificant.

We decided to merge the two ideas and combine the strength of both ideas through the following:
✅   Kept
  Using AR as the visualization method because it’s fun, engaging, and has a stronger impact
  Community building through collaboration and competition
🔄   Changed
  Allowed logging more small & doable environmental actions like bringing a shopping bag. This removed the interaction barrier of having to achieve something big.
  Using CO2e as a common unit shared by all actions to provide intuitive visualization of the impact
Iteration two & three
High-fidelity Prototyping & User Testing
To evaluate the prototype of CO2LLAB, we tested a high-fidelity prototype with 4 target users using the think-aloud protocol. Through mostly positive feedbacks, the user testing sessions uncovered issues like confusion towards the AR visualization and lack of rewards. We incorporated the feedbacks in the 3rd iteration of the prototype.
AR visualization
More intuitive visualization & added reward for long-term retention
1st iteration - cloud popping visualisation
2nd iteration - CO2e spere visualisation
Our original AR design aimed for a sensory experience of popping CO2 clouds and creating a beautiful sea of glowing orbs, but users found this metaphor too abstract and lacked visible impact. As time passed, the cloud AR interaction could become repetitive. Our second iteration improved with bubble-popping action representing offsetting CO2e, a big sphere for visualising total volume of CO2e offset, and random rewards for long-term user retention.
Public display
Keep it simple, stupid
The first iteration of the public display design allowed user to log their daily actions, as we thought this provides flexibility in channels. However, our users expressed that 1) they don’t know the difference between logging on the app and the display; 2) they don’t feel comfortable logging their actions in public.
The second iteration removed the logging functionality from the public display, separating the personal space (app) and the public space (display). We also added the entry point to view the dashboard, leader board and the AR in the first screen to allow new users to explore.
Synchronized UX writing and visual language
Users enjoyed using the app to visualise their impact, but found the vocabulary of carbon, CO2 and CO2e difficult to understand. Second iteration aligned the vocabulary across all platforms to use CO2e only, and synchronised the visual language of CO2e bubble with the AR visualisation.
You are not the user
Initially, I projected my own behaviour onto users and assumed that they needed a platform to showcase their cause-related identity. But user research showed not everyone is comfortable doing so. Instead, they show their passion through small and consistent actions. This led us to pivot the idea to an action-based platform.
When in disagreement, sketch
Disagreement is common in multidisciplinary teams, and discussions can sometimes stuck on higher-level design concepts without any alignment. However, when we sketch our ideas on paper (e.g. a user flow or wireframe), it grounds the team and encourages discussion about specific features, leading to faster idea alignment.
Testing on low-fi prototype saves effort
Due to a tight timeline, we rushed into high-fidelity prototyping in the second iteration. However, the AR visualization was hard for users to understand, and a lot of effort was wasted. Lesson learned: prioritize simple user testing before significant development.
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