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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V042289/1
Title: Consumer Experience (CX) Digital Tools for Dematerialisation for the Circular Economy
Principal Investigator: Baurley, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Cho, Dr Y Berthouze, Professor NL Jewitt, Professor C
Petreca, Dr B B
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Arcade Ltd Dress-X Jiva Materials Ltd
Kiosk N1C The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) UK Fashion & Textile Association
Department: Materials Science Research Centre
Organisation: Royal College of Art
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2021 Ends: 31 December 2024 Value (£): 845,227
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human-Computer Interactions
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Mar 2021 Digital Economy Sustainable Digital Society 2021 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Consumer Experience (CX) Digital Tools for Dematerialisation for the Circular Economy

- for the design of a new generation of 'Product Cultures' that promote human wellbeing and people's agency in environmental sustainability

The much expounded sustainability strategy of dematerialisation - buying less and extending the life of products - is now starting to gain significant traction in the general consciousness on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our eco-design strategy for dematerialisation is focused on gaining a fine grained understanding of human experience in order to extend 'product offerings' that would decouple the use of material resources from human wellbeing and economic development, by designing experiences and services related to products that include care, update/upgrade, repair, and recycling. The central idea is that by designing experiences and services for products, value that is based on human wellbeing needs can be added to them.

We aim to shape new cultures of consumption that will meet the demands of the market for greater sustainability, whilst giving consumers greater agency to respect their environment - becoming custodians rather than consumers. This requires a new relationship between consumers and their products. We believe that experiences and services for products must be constituents of this relationship, hence the challenge is to translate our understanding of needs related to human wellbeing into the design of product-experience-service offerings.

We will innovate CX Digital Tools to support experiences and services for physical apparel products that are related to care, repair and update/upgrade in order to keep apparel in use for as long as possible. We will define a set of scenarios and associated technologies for new cultures of CE, by gaining understanding of how social and digital actors (the consumer-public, charity shops, repair initiatives, clothes swapping initiatives, apparel brands, retailers, and digital-electronics hacker communities) come together to enact a CE. We will innovate new sensing and perceptual technologies based on novel computer vision and machine learning architecture to be used by consumers to understand materials and materials degradation, to make decisions of material reparation and to express their perceptions around aged, repaired, updated/upgraded products. We will evaluate user interactions and perceptions derived from scenarios, with a methodological contribution to the evaluation that combines our HCI, social sciences, design and phenomenological approaches.

The CX Digital Tools is designed and specified using our Circular Experience Model we have conceptualised, which has four categories: 1) Pre-Ownership; 2) During Ownership; 3) Giving up Ownership; 4) Post Ownership. We will use these four categories to design a set of experiences and services for apparel products that are focused on the human perceptual experience of materials - specifically, materials from waste and recycled materials, ageing and wear, repair, and update/upgrade.

We will adopt a Citizen Science approach in order to design and test experiences and services with consumers and stakeholders. Through this approach we will ensure that we are reducing the need to develop new technology products, as we will seek to work with digital technologies that consumers already possess, which forms part of our approach to mitigate environmental impacts both in our research programme as in the outcomes of it.

This 30 month project will be led by the Materials Science Research Centre at the Royal College of Art in partnership with UCL - the University College London Interaction Centre, Computer Science Department, and the Knowledge Lab.

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