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IoT Smart Bins: How to Create Gamified Smart Bin Solutions?

As the electronic devices can contain dangerous materials, e-waste becomes a threat for the environment, humans, and both wild and domestic animals.

Published : 21.01.2020

Recycling is more and more important as we are overconsuming the Globe’s natural resources. Haaga-Helia’s ICT students created gamified smart bin concepts that could reduce electronic waste’s negative impact on the environment in the future.

We are buying electronics more than ever which means that the amount of electronic waste is rising also. As the electronic devices can contain dangerous materials, for example lead and cadmium, e-waste becomes a threat for the environment, humans, and both wild and domestic animals. This is why it is important to educate and motivate children to be environmentally conscious. Although this is a serious matter, it does not mean that learning to recycle needs to be.

Gamified IoT (Internet of Things) smart bins could help to resolve the e-waste problem. In an innovation course, Haaga-Helia’s ICT students created smart bin prototypes. The course was part of IoT Rapid-Proto Labs, an Erasmus+ funded programme that creates new IoT talent in Europe. In the programme, students from different European higher education institutions have the opportunity to contribute to real-life business cases with IoT.

Creating Fun Recycling Experiences for Children

In service design the first important condition is to understand the target group and its characteristics. When designing games for children, the main emphasis is on having fun while learning.

In this particular case the key questions for creating smart bin concepts and prototypes were:

  • What kind of games would encourage children to recycle?
  • How can recycling be gamified?
  • What kind of tools could IoT provide to this?

Next user personas were created in order to capture what would motivate the children to play a recycling game. In the ideation phase, it was necessary to consider also the technical aspects that come with IoT:

  • What kind of sensors should be used to recognize the objects?
  • How does the system get data?

Most importantly, a solution that both covers the technical requirements and is interesting to children has to be found.

Good and feasible ideas were then taken into the next phase, concept creation. Each concept was presented by its designers showing how their gamified e-waste recycling solutions work.

  • What are the touchpoints?
  • How does the user act while playing?
  • What are the reactions after playing?
  • What motivates them to play again?

Winning Gamified Recycling Concept

One of the three prototypes outshone the others. The idea of this mobile game concept was for the child to recycle electronic waste while joining forces with friends to fight the “Evil Boss”. The child was to collect points by completing educational recycling tasks daily, for example taking pictures of different electronic objects. The pictures functioned as data for IoT smart bins to sort different kinds of e-waste. The concept also emphasized keeping the player motivated.