Each day thousands of new products are launched in the market turning older ones obsolete. The life span of devices is getting shorter and shorter. Many of these devices are rarely used before they are discarded. As a result, more and more unnecessary e-waste is reaching landfills leading to an increasing amount of toxic chemicals in soil, water, and air. The sharing economy set out to tackle this issue by allowing for rarely used products to be shared. The idea is to lower the overall amount of products being produced and eventually cutting down unnecessary e-waste. Yet, shared products are often troubled by the issue that people don’t take good care of them. This is especially problematic when the hardware is not designed for sharing.

E-magine aims to solve this problem by providing a service that enables neighbours to responsibly share seldom used home appliances while incentivizing them to take well care of the devices.

The E-magine service comprises of device assistants, an app, and a buyback program:

1. Each E-magine device comes with an ‘assistant’ that

  • gives instructions on how to you use and maintain it
  • reacts to the way you treat it thus ensuring you take appropriate care
  • reminds you of the expiration of your rental period

The assistant comes in the form of a robot attached to the plug of the device. The design of the assistant is meant to create an emotional link between the shared appliance and the user. It communicates via sound and slight movements of its head and LED-powered eyes.

2. The sharing model is powered by an app that handles reservations and payments.

3. E-magine ensures that existing resources are being used by buying back home appliances from the households that later on benefit from the service.

Answering the brief “Designing a glocal electronic device that will make a positive environmental impact”, the design team focused on the electronic home appliances with a low usage frequency. Thinking about how to design for an increased usage rate, team came up with the idea of a sharing service. We took our early prototypes to test in the field and found that a sustainable home appliance sharing service requires people to emotionally resonate with those devices. Based on our research findings we developed and designed the value proposition,  service model, and prototypes for E-magine.