To explore how artificial intelligence can augment education and learning through interactions designed to improve the user’s relationship with the environment and create sustainable behavioral changes.
Our team has created ORION, an IoT assistant that is designed to help users reduce their resource consumption in the home.
Semester long course for Interaction Design Studio II and Research Methods Courses
Adrian Galvin, Laura Rodriguez-Eng, Mary Tsai
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, XD, Keynote
- Conducted literature reviews on education and learning, and how artificial intelligence can be used to assist and augment this process
- Gained insight into what people perceive of environmental protection and advocacy through interviews, surveys, diary studies, and generative workshops
- Prototyped data visualizations and conversational & voice user interfaces and tested with users
- Created a home-based IoT device that encourages positive interaction with utility data and the local environment
The Problem Space
Human impact on our environment leads to pollution, climate change, and natural resource depletion.
Furthermore, people lack concrete understanding of how their personal behavior and actions contribute to this impact.
We seek to help users develop and maintain sustainable behaviors, however successfully changing behavioral patterns is extremely difficult.
How might we teach people to understand the environmental impact of their daily home behavior and foster lasting behavior change to improve human sustainability?
How do we Learn?
Because our group was interested in self directed learning over longer periods of time, utilizing informal learning principals for this project made the most sense. We specifically focused on areas of community and social-based and self-directed learning.
We wanted to develop a concept that would allow for a continuous set of interactions with the user, or many users together.
But first, we needed to better understand how people perceive the environment and their connections to it.
Research for this project was divided into three categories: exploratory, generative, and evaluative.
Exploratory Research helped us to identify and outline the direction for this project. We interviewed relevant faculty members, local community activists, and administrators of environmental organizations in the Pittsburgh area.
We also conducted an extensive literature review to broaden our understanding of relevant topics, such as:
- education and how people learn and comprehend new ideas in a social environment
- artificial intelligence & how it is currently being used to assist teachers
- local and national environmental issues and what activism groups are doing
Generative Research allowed us to gain a better understanding of how people perceive the environment and environmentally sustainable behaviors.
We held a participatory workshop and asked our users to:
- Create two personas, one that helps the environment and one that doesn’t care
- Lay out a timeline of each of their lives, detailing how and why they cared (or didn’t) about the environment
- Come up with a ‘magic device’ that one or both of the personas could use to improve the environment around them
We also held a diary study where participants were asked to take two daily photos of what the environment meant to them.
User Testing & Feedback enabled our team to evaluate which of our ideas worked and made sense to potential users.
As we were exploring ways to build a device that could help with environmental awareness in a home, we wanted to know if this would be something that people would actually want to do.
Based on our user research, we synthesized our qualitative data, results, and impressions to determine four design principals for ORION.
- Focus on small scale, daily life activities. Tackling climate change or water pollution is an impossible task. But picking up trash, volunteering, or using less electricity are achievable measures for most people.
- Make the impact visible. It’s difficult for people to correlate their behavior with an increase (or decrease) in environmental pollution. But what happens if the effects of their environmental behavior can be seen through a smaller scale, such as in their home?
- Awareness is an empowering catalyst for behavior change. Is someone unaware that their everyday behavior harms the environment? How might their behavior change if they become conscious how their actions impact the environment?
- Connect people’s personal values to a larger environmental context. Not everyone is concerned about the environment. But when environmental issues become connected to personal matters, such as the health and well-being of a loved one, realizations of the environment’s impact can occur.