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CO2NLINE

How much carbon footprint do our digital activities leave behind?

CO2NLINE, track, save and offset digital carbon footprint

In 2016, the Paris Agreement was signed as a legally binding part of the international agreement on climate change to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. The global CO2 budget for this target would be used up in 7 years if we don’t act now.

ICT (information and communication technology) is responsible for more than 2.5% of global carbon emissions, and its share continues to rise. However, compared to transport or food industry, carbon footprint awareness for ICT is barely discussed.

As ICT plays an increasingly important role in everyone’s lives, knowing about digital carbon helps safeguard our planetary boundaries. But what drives a person from knowing to action and ultimately change habits?

A physical form for an invisible problem - “CO2NLINE” translates your daily digital carbon budget into a physical volume that you can monitor and balance. The budget is calculated based on values within the 1.5 °C target.

A bridge between physical and digital - There’s no way to remind a person of the physical-digital balance with a purely digital product. That’s why the AR scene can only be opened within short distance, scanning the physical form. To keep track of non-digital activities, you can write them down on the vitrine so you don’t kill time on TikTok while your unfinished book gathers dust.

A “save more, get more” experience - User tests were conducted to find the booster for user motivation and engagement. It turned out that punishments don‘t lead to actions, rewards do. The AR experience is therefore based on the principle of “save more, get more” and rewards you with positive development of your AR scene each time you save.

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Task 4 - Synthesize Challenge

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Nov.15

Julia: I was wondering if it might be better ti change our challenge from „ecological“ to „carbon“ footprint?(because most papers rather write about the carbon footprint)

Youran: I was just reading papers and most calculate CO2-e, which stands for carbon equivalent, so yeah I think it would be more precise.

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Nov.16

Youran: I felt a little lost after some reading cause compared to other activities, streaming still seams to be one of the most eco way to go, by which I mean streaming less has a way smaller effect on carbon reduction than not eating that Döner.

Simon: Yes I mean eating animals really seams to be a problem ;)

But I think we'll find an „argument“. I mean everyone is talking about this „really bad“ footprint of online activities. Maybe we could also focus more on the energy consumption. Because the carbon argument only holds when we don't have renewables, right?

Youran: Yeah exactly, something like that. I was introduced to „traceroute“, maybe you guys know it well, and got to see how many hops were conducted for one website visit. Maybe that helps for energy consumption calculation?

Simon: Maybe but I'm not sure if we can really use that data and translate it into energy consumption so easily. We probably don't get the information what these different servers do, just where we „went“?

Simon: I just found out that scrolling through instagram feed causes 1.55 grams CO2 per minute :D

Youran: It would be nice if we can get this kind of precise numbers, is the source trustworthy? It seams to be really hard to calculate this kind of consumption, it varies from country to country, what kind of network you're connected to etc.

Simon: It's statista, added it to our project links.

Yes, but I think it's ok to do some kind of generalisation in order to be able to give the users some sense of what they are doing.

Youran: True.

Julia: I think so too as long as we can argue why we chose that kind of measurement it should be fine :)

(replying to the Youran's 1st message on Nov.16) I was also thinking about that if we want to present it kind of value-free or if we want to focus on the „bad“ impact. Not sure yet what I prefer.

Youran: I am all for neutral. Just realised that I struggled with the carbon mitigation context was because it's not something could be solved on individual level, it has to be tackled by policy makers.

However, for example, if we make the tool to visualise the activity data, which parties are involved and so on, it could be helpful already and would eventually drive people to advocate for this topic.

And it could also show the tendency through time, which could be interesting.

Simon: I really agree with you that it's all about politics and not individuals. Good point.. so we should really think about how to communicate this rather than individual guilt. And we should document this „aha moment“ :)

Youran: Oh yea.

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Task 5 - Look Around

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Nov.18

Simon: some bad news: On apple devices there's no way of accessing the screentime data of specific apps. And apple chose to hide this data deliberately for privacy reasons, which makes sense..

Youran: Oh well, I guess it's good news for iOS users :D What about browsers and android?

Simon: Android should work. And there is a framework which targets firefox and chrome extensions. (Mannifest v3)

Julia: Okey that's good news. Have you also checked for windows or Linux or should we focus on phone use?

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Task 6 - Low-fi Prototyping

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Nov.24

Youran: I asked about how my friend feel about using things like toilet paper roll as the unit of measurement, and he said that it might not serve well as motivation because for most of people, toilet paper roll does not have much value. So if we are going to connect it to an existing product/item, it has to have enough value so that people will want to take action to start with.

Simon: We could use trains to visualise the distance.

Julia: Maybe instead of visualising the reduction, we should think about how to visualise the saving.

Simon: For visualizing the reduction: Should we (a) track the users consumption and calculate the reduction based on his/her average or (b) find some average consumption for Germany and compare the users consumption to this average?

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Task 7 - User Test

Dec.1

We installed and tried out the „mobile carbonalyzer app“ from the shift project.

Youran decided to set an „cuckoo alarm“ at 23 everyday to see whether it's annoying or not.

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Dec. 5

We decided to further develop the cuckoo from our last session of lo-fi prototyping, and created a user test to see test whether a „reward“ or a „punishment“ would motivate the user more, in our case, to keep one's digital carbon footprint below one's budget.

Here's the link to the survey:

https://forms.gle/ewym84hmnLWFsttQ8

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Interim Presentation

Main Takeaway Simon:

- make the artifact interesting, fun, exciting when user saves carbon

- make artifact boring if user overshoots

-> user wants to explore the artifacts shapes and thus has to save.

Prototyping Week 1

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Takeaway Youran:

Mechanical shape-shifting instead of soft robot because the air pumps are loud, it takes time to get the artifact air-tight, and it takes generally more time to experiment with it than we what're left.

Prototyping Week 2

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Takeaway: Rethink the goal.

Takeaway from Peter's suggestion: Simplify the AR user journey and focus more on the key functions.

The AR application design

The bottom part of the artifact will be used as a projection plane for an AR application. The saved carbon will be visualized in this AR environment.

We decided to use Unity3D to develop the AR application because it is very versatile and quiet easy. AR functionality like image and object tracking is easy to accomplish and works nicely. In addition we are already familiar with Unity3D and its interface and usage.

An important link between the design of the artifact and the AR application is the surface of the bottom part of the artifact. This part will be used in image or object tracking and thus needs to fulfill some requirements like high contrast, sharp edges and uniqueness. The traceability of surfaces can be evaluated with online tools (link)

For the exhibition the AR app will not be connected to the artifact and its raspberryPi but instead show readymade animations. We will provide some test devices with the app installed for the visitors of the exhibition.

Feature Freeze (Prototyping week 3)

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Takeaway:

Bring all elements to the same level of abstraction. Especially for the AR, realistic style was not well received.

Dig further with the moving part.

Prototyping week 4

An updated concept with a foam block moving downwards as the visualisation of daily digital carbon budget.

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Test print of the product surface, which serves as AR marker as well.

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Grow a vine using shader graph in Unity.

Prototyping week 5

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Visuals for poster.

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Building update.

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AR Update

The build target of the AR-App was switched to android in order to run on the android tablets provided by the Cluster. Unfortunately the android devices or the ARCore are running the app as smoothly as the iOS devices used before. The tracking is now a bit unstable. We'll try object tracking instead of image tracking as well, when the artifact is build.

The AR-App has all major functionalities needed for the concept except a connection to the artifact through a server. Thus, values are not synchronized between the artifact_software which tracks the data consumption and the AR-App. 

Within the app a guided tour is implemented which shows the basic functionalities:
- Everyday a new bubble appears showing your saved amount.
- These bubbles accumulate over time
- Users can donate as soon as they have enough bubbles
- this donation triggers the object to transform

Fachgruppe

Produkt-Design

Art des Projekts

Projekt-Tagebuch

Zugehöriger Workspace

digital:sovereignty

Entstehungszeitraum

Wintersemester 2021 / 2022

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