1. (of light or fire) Glowing, gleaming, or flickering with a soft radiance.
2. (of wit, humor, etc.) Lightly brilliant.
Synonyms: sparkling – shining
The fine folks from the UK-based Change Project have again developed an interesting tool to help us in the pursuit of healthier, more sustainable lives. The same group that brought us the Tidy Street Energy Conservation project, has also developed a handle that clips onto any regular shopping cart and uses a scanner and display to provide shoppers with “nutritional, ethical and environmental product information” at a glance.
The project is guided by theories now commonly associated with the “nudge” – the notion that people aren’t always the best at choosing what is right for them. The idea is that proper design can contribute to the creation of environments where it easier for people to choose those things that are ultimately better for themselves and society. As noted by the researchers, most of us make decisions using all sorts of short-cuts which ignore much of the information that is presented to us – given our need to process so much information in short periods of time, we tend to focus on the most prominent pieces of information. Sometimes this is as simple as recognising something (herein lies the power if branding).
This being the case, the research and design team looked to develop a tool that would quickly provide highly salient information that would otherwise take more effort than most people would muster for say, purchasing jam. The visualization of product information comes via 16 multi-colour LEDs, which change both pattern and colour (check out the video below to see it in action). The nature of the information displayed is highly flexible, as it can display nominal information such as being organic or not, and ordinal information, such as low, medium and high levels of a given property, such as food miles. There is also a little emoticon at the centre of the piece which changes from happy to neutral to sad in response to the average miles of all the products in the cart when compared an established norm.
The research scenario was one where participants were not selecting their own goods exclusively, but were asked to consider the needs of guests who appeared to be quite sensitive to environmental issues. It would be very interesting to do a field test on the tool to see how it might affect average, run-of-the-mill purchases, given other considerations such as price and habitual preferences.
Kalinikaité, V., Rogers, Y., Bird, J., Bachour, K., Villar, N., Payne, S., Todd, P. M., Schöning, J., Krüger, A. and Kreitmayer, S. (2011) How to Nudge In Situ: Designing Lambent Devices to Deliver Information Salience in Supermarkets. Proceedings of Ubicomp, 11-20. web: http://mcs.open.ac.uk/pervasive/pdfs/kalnikaite%20ubicomp%2011.pdf