Be patient, good things take time :)

A wearable app that helps you to recycle better
00 Introduction
CollateralAndroid wear app prototype, Concept Video

TeamAndy Jin, Vedant das Swain, Vikas Luthra

My RoleInterview, Task Analysis, Personas Creation, Ideation, Storyboarding, UI & UX Design, Concept Video

Sketch, Python, Adobe CC
Video demonstrating how does reco work
A lot of people who sorted waste on campus are either not sure about how to sort the waste properly or do not have the time to think through how to segregate them. This led to an undesirable results including contamination of recyclables and increasing amount of landfill. Such issue can lead to serious impact affecting environmental sustainability as a whole.
A wearable app prototype - reco has been created to help improve recycling quality as well as to raise users' awareness regarding environmental sustainability. reco nudges users as they approach bin sets to segregate waste, then prompt users to answer a few simple Yes/No questions to decide which bin should the waste go into.
Demo Video
Here is a video explaining the details behind the project and how exactly does reco work.
Jump to Design
Unique Ideas
01 Discovery
Environmental sustainability is an issue that concern a lot of us today. Unfortunately a lot of us are not doing enough. Our team decided to focus on our own Georgia Tech students as our user group, as they are millenials and generation Z that will truly affect the environment in the future. We conducted interviews with 10 students and 4 experts to understand what truly concerns them and the Georgia Tech campus regarding environmental sustainability to narrow down our scope. As we discovered recycling is a concerning issue to both students and experts, we moved on to conduct both natural and controlled observations to help improve our understanding in the area of recycling. We also conducted competitive analysis. Together, these methods helped answer the following questions we have:
Preliminary Interviews
  • What truly concerns students in the domain of environmental sustainability?
  • What are students currently doing to contribute to environmental sustainability?
  • Why are they not doing enough to help improve environmental sustainability?
  • What are some of the major environmental sustainability issues that concern our campus?
  • What are they currently doing to cope with the issues?
  • How are the students currently segregating waste?
  • What are some of the difficulties they encounter when they are sorting waste?
  • How confident are students when they are sorting waste?
  • Can they actually make correct recycling decisions?
Competitive Analysis
  • What are some of the existing solutions out there to address recycling? (to avoid repeating similar designs)
  • Are existing solutions good enough to solve the issue of improper recycling?
  • What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing solutions?
As we completed interviewing 14 students and experts , observing 25 students naturally and 5 under controlled situation as well as analyzing the pros & cons of 5 distinct existing solutions, we come to synthesize our findings and define our users' needs.
02 Define
It has immediately become clear to us that this is a more concerning issue than we imagined - as waste audit data revealed 41% of the waste were recycled incorrectly as well as 80% of our controlled observation participants sorted waste into the wrong bin. Yet the average rating of their confidence in recycling correctly reached 4.2/5 (5 being the most confident) as they made the wrong decision. We realized we must introduce a solution to help solve the problem.

With natural and controlled observations, we came to analyze the strategies and behaviors of our users when they are recycling. The goal of the analysis is to help us empathize with our target users better and to understand the difficulties they encounter when they are recycling. The result of the analysis is shown as following:
As we have familiarized ourselves with users' strategies and behaviors when they are sorting waste, we then moved on to identify the users' needs of students who are trying to recycle correctly yet fail to do so. We also translated our findings into personas so that we can relate to our users better in the phase of ideation.
Users' needs
Users expressed they do not want to spend time to think about recycling, especially when they are busy working on other primary tasks.
Lack of Knowledge
Users are unfamiliar with proper recycling practices. A lot of confusions happened as they do not have the knowledge about how to sort all different kinds of materials.
There is no way for users to tell if they recycled correctly. This easily led to them referring to improper recycling practices in the past as they thought those were right.
Two different personas were developed based on the interview + observations findings. This helps us to empathize with different users with various levels of concern about recycling and strategies for recycling before we move on to ideation.
03 Ideation
Our research helped us to identify how users' waste segregation practices are significantly influenced by two factors: knowledge and convenience. With these understandings, we focused on introducing design solution that caters those needs. We had a brainstorming session for each group member to generate multiple ideas, and by the end of the brainstorming session we ended up with 21 unique ideas. We then selected our top 4 ideas, created storyboards and paper prototypes to seek feedback.
Top 4 ideas
Paper prototypes of our top 4 ideas. Click on the image to view prototypes and storyboards in detail.
We then reviewed our users needs again to think about which idea will suit our users best. We defined our selection criteria into 4 main areas listed as following:
Design Decisions - 4 Criteria
Just In Time
A design intervention will be the most effective when the action takes place right in time. This guides the user to make the right decision at the moment and requires low cognitive load from the user
As our user research indicated convenience as a key factor influencing users' decision, we decided a solution which does not make users feel inconvenient in his daily routine is essential. The design should also be easy and quick to use
We want the users to do the right thing and also gain knowledge from the process, so that they can learn to do the right thing on their own in the future. In this way, the solution will become truly sustainable instead of a timely one.
Behavior Change
Our goal is to introduce a truly sustainable solution which evokes a change in user behavior. Therefore our design has to help the user to make the choice and guide them to the right path by building knowledge
Based on these selection criteria, we decided to select Wearable Nudge Smartwatch App as our final idea. We reached this decision as it is a just-in-time, sustainable design solution welcomed by multiple stakeholders which educates users through the process. As we have decided, we renamed the project idea as reco.
04 Design
As the designer of the team, I took lead in creating the user flow as well as the UI elements of the wearable app. Here is a quick overview of the design as well as the design considerations contributed to the final design:
Design Considerations & Final Design
Aesthetic & Minimalist UI
Since our aim was to help the users complete task efficiently, we kept a simple aesthetic with basic interactions to maximize convenience for our users
Consistent & Concise Content
We ensured all questions are structured similar form (short and to the point) to minimize cognitive load processing the information.
Visibility of System Status
The states of statuses and flow need to be effectively communicated to users using visual icons and color. It has to be simple and easily perceived.
Minimalistic UI which draws users' attention to the question
User Flow
In order to communicate the idea of how does reco work, I took lead in creating a video (please refer to introduction) as well as a storyboard to showcase how can reco help confused users to make the right recycling in an instant.
05 Takeaways
I have learnt a lot from the project. Here are some important takeaways

1. Figuring out the right problem

We had a hard time locking down our problem because we want to find out a real problem in the area instead of just jumping to a problem we assume our users have. We did a lot more preliminary research and spent much longer time to narrow down our problem scope than other peers. Yet all of our team members felt extremely rewarding when we narrowed down our problem scope to waste segregation, and became more determined to design a practical design solution - because research told us it's a real problem concerning our stakeholders and it is a problem worth solving.

2. Disagreements are helpful

Our team members did not see eye to eye on everything at first. For instance we spent a long time arguing when should the design solution be introduced - should it be the time when users want to dispose a piece of trash and cannot find a recycling bin? Or should it be the moment the user actually disposes a trash in a multi-stream system. Yet the disputes led us to ask the right questions in research phase, and gave us a better insight to work on our project. These insights then united us a team in an even better way as we overcame the obstacles together.

3. Create a proper style guide for handing off

As the designer of the team, I handed off the design to our UX engineer in the form of an InVision prototype so that he can moved on to develop the prototype on android wear. Ultimately, the prototype is not showcasing the design in the exact way as I intended - Font size, spacing, alignment and the colors are all close but not exactly what I have designed. This taught me an important lesson that I should always structure a proper style guide before handing off to make sure the developers understand the designs correctly.