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Intervention 3 - Collaborative Design Sessions

In this intervention Carlotta and I wanted to get perspectives outside of the research bubble we’d created between the two of us.

We had developed a series of questions that we wanted answers to from the perspectives of others.

To achieve this we’ve tried to go about it in two ways: through a collaborative design session (kind of like a focus group but more interactive and fun) and a series of interviews held with some of the people who had answered our survey and indicated they’d be happy to be contacted for further research.

We ran a pilot collaborative design session with some of our MDEF classmates, (and while for this one I admit it isn’t as out there in terms of community engagement as I would have liked, it was great to get a diverse range of creative perspectives on this topic from my classmates who come from all over the world and have vastly different backgrounds)

As of the time of this writing the interviews have yet to take place as we arrange compatible times, but I’m looking forward to them as we have people participating from the UK, The Netherlands and Spain, which is very exciting and I’m looking forward to hearing their perspectives.

The Collaborative Design Session

For this session we had a series of questions that we wanted to find answers to, these were developed in part from the research we had been doing as well as the answers to surveys we had sent out. We wanted to gain some fresh insight and perspective on these questions so we came to together to narrow them down to 5 questions based on 3 key themes we’d identified from our research:

  1. How does AI find it’s place in the home?
  2. How can we design for behavioural change?
  3. Energy consumption and how understand it

collab design

A snapshot from our collaborative brainstorming session

We spent an hour in this design session and it was a really great insight into the thought process and ideas that everyone who participated had. We used large sheets of paper with the main question written in the middle as the communication medium and that worked really well. It gave everyone the opportunity to discuss their different ideas and also to share their thoughts individually on the paper without much discussion if they didn’t want to.

This for me was a great exercise in learning how to facilitate a session like this properly, running this session as a pilot to learn how doing a session like this would work was fantastic, as we know that we want to try and host more of these sessions with members from outside communities, some from our research pool but also others that we’ve identified in our stakeholder maps. Ideally a range from those living in off grid communities, those working in the energy sector and those who are already trying to reduce their energy consumption as much as they can.

Below you can find the results from the exercise 👇

collab design collab design collab design collab design
Participants filled in their thoughts on the different questions on these large A1 pieces of paper we had layed out

We summarised the main results from each page in our shared Miro board to use for further research and reference later on, to develop more of these collaborative brainstorming exercises and to develop more in depth interview questions for later on.

findings summary

A collection of all the main insights from the collaborative brainstiorm session

You can check out the key findings from the session below 👇

Q: How might we shift western perspectives on climate choices?

A: Shift campaigns to focus on positive messages rather than guilt-inducing ones. Highlight the reasons why we need to lessen energy usage through group sessions and advertisements.

Q: How would you feel if an AI was a part of your household, and how might we integrate AI into our current homes?

A: Considerations include the need for trust, privacy, adjustability, and integration in stages. AI could generate visual data, provide tips, and potentially have a physical form.

Q: How might we build more awareness of our energy consumption impact in an approachable way?

A: Suggestions include making climate choices fun and playful, educating the young through cartoons, and showing the real cost of energy beyond just monetary value.

Q: How might we empower/enable people to reduce their energy consumption footprint without reducing their quality of life?

A: The idea of reducing quality of life was seen negatively, as it is currently tied to consumption. A shift in comfort levels and perceptions may be necessary.

Planned Interviews

The interviews we have planned are really a space for one on one conversation for our participants to share their ideas openly about their energy consumption habits, their thoughts on what they would like to see changed, what they would want to change and why they take certain actions or not. Really our goal with these interviews is to get a deeper and more human understanding of the problem as a whole from a variety of diverse perspectives across international borders.

Unfortunately we haven’t had the chance yet to have any of these interviews, which is a shame as I think it would have maybe changed the direction of some of the subsequent work we would have done, but that’s alright, their insight is still invaluable and will be even more useful as we hopefully move to the next phase of our research which would be testing out a few prototypes with some of these participants.

As the interviews take place, they will be found here below, linked either as videos or transcript pdfs, with the key points summarised to give a brief overview.

Final Thoughts

While I’m really happy with how the start of this intervention went and I think we’ve gathered some invaluable information, I really wish we’d had the chance to engage a little more with the community we are starting to build outside of our immediate circle of influence, and been able to expand our research efforts to energy communities that might be a bit further afield.

This is something that we are really going to work towards in the next term as we develop our physical prototypes even further in the form of energy monitoring hardware and AI companion, and hopefully that will develop into some really interesting insights.