Ash at CIID

Ashwin Rajan's blog while at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

Posts Tagged ‘india

Remote user research – Intel industry project

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Here are further notes on generating insights from user research to inspire design concepts for the CIID-Intel industry project titled ‘The Social Collective as an Agent of Behavioral Change’. Doing background research on the concept of the smart grid, my teammate Mimi and I found ourselves in an fascinating conversation about how urban residents in our native countries South Korea and India seemed to perceive the idea of sustainable and energy efficient housing. We thought this was a very interesting target audience to explore further and design for.

Given a very short period of time (less than a week) to conduct user research to inspire us in our solutions, we decided to conduct online interviews with people we could reach in South Korea and India. The exercise was simple: address the issue of energy efficiency in urban residential apartment complexes and try to understand how aware people were of the concern, how they associated it with in their daily lives, and if they actually participated in making any sustainable energy choices.

In order to set the context, we used simple videos available from publicly available content online. The subjects were asked to watch a video (like the one shown below, made by one of my favorite design firms Xplane) and then take an open, informal online interview on Skype. Using an online tool like Skype helped tremendously as it was easy to work in multiple modes, exchanging links or references and text, while also speaking freely at length.

After setting the context for sustainability in general and energy efficiency in particular, we were able to dive in further with specific questions like:

  • Do you know the concept of a ‘green building’ or ‘sustainable construction’ ?
  • Do you know anyone who owns or lives in a ‘sustainable’ home or construction?
  • What are the points that are most energy-intensive in your apartment block or society?
  • What are the points that are least energy-intensive in your apartment block or society?
  • Are there energy costs that you think you can share with your fellow apartment or society residents?
  • How much do you think you can save on energy by changing the design of your apartment and the materials in it?
  • Which gadgets in your home do you think consume the most power?
  • Which gadgets in your home do you consider most dispensable?
  • Which gadgets in your home do you consider least dispensable?
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Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 16, 2009 at 10:25 am

The Oil We Eat

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Connected to my last post on strategies to redesign the global food production, distribution and consumption system, here’s a link to a landmark essay which goes right to the heart of the matter in lucid and frightening fashion.

The Oil We Eat by Richard Manning. PDF available. Author of the critically acclaimed Against the Grain.

Nice video of Manning discussing his fundamental premise below.

The story from the Indian perspective:

Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 16, 2009 at 8:45 am

The Vertical Farm Project

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The first phase of working on the CIID-Intel industry project was exploring current and future thinking around sustainable energy management technologies and concepts.

One of the prototypal projects I have been very kicked about for some years now is the Vertical Farm Project. I guess my background interest in this comes from understanding something of the terrible consequences of large-scale commercial farming in India: where the benefits of farming necessarily need to first impact the immediate local, small-scale community, and sustain the local economy. The unconditional dependence of the small farmer on the big market (read urban consumption) distributors is a sad tale which I won’t go into here. The central need is ‘local’. Extending the idea that small farmers need to grow food in order to first feed and sustain their immediate community, a ‘urban farm’ located within close proximity or within a city neighborhood to supply the needs of the surrounding community sounds like a good one. And apparently the concept is being discussed quite actively; here is a description and some videos + links on this fascinating concept.

A description from verticalfarm.com: “An entirely new approach to indoor farming must be invented, employing cutting edge technologies. The Vertical Farm must be efficient (cheap to construct and safe to operate). Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world’s urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.”

Inside the vertical farm. From http://www.verticalfarm.com/designs.html.

Inside the vertical farm. From http://www.verticalfarm.com/designs.html.

This page with rich designs for the concept continues to grow!

A New York times article discussing viability and costs associated with the project.

A slideshow of pictures from the New York times.

Sources for this blog post:
http://www.verticalfarm.com/
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/15/science/15farm.html

Written by Ashwin Rajan

May 16, 2009 at 8:05 am