Preparing to Repair : Using Co-Design and Speculative Design Methods to Explore the Future of IoT Right-to-Repair with Citizens and Communities

Pilling, Matthew and Stead, Michael and Gradinar, Adrian and Remy, Christian and Macpherson-Pope, Thomas (2022) Preparing to Repair : Using Co-Design and Speculative Design Methods to Explore the Future of IoT Right-to-Repair with Citizens and Communities. In: Cumulus Detroit 2022 : Design for Adaptation. Cumulus.

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In an effort to stymie electronic product obsolescence, the UK government introduced the Eco-design for Energy Related Products and Energy Information regulations, commonly referred to as the Right-to-Repair, in July 2021. Mirroring the European Union’s 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan, manufacturers are now required to integrate a degree of repairability into certain electronic products sold within the UK, as well as supply their replacement parts for ten years after production. However, this still does not create an equitable form of Right-to-Repair, as the regulations capitulate to manufacturer sanctioned repair services, rather than helping to foster innovative, citizen-oriented cultures of repair.    Importantly, the Right-to-Repair also only applies to a limited range of household products and does not account for the rapid increase in the unsustainable consumption and disposal of networked or so-called ‘smart’ Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This is despite ever greater volumes of electronic waste being characterised as IoT – it is estimated that by 2030, there will be over 25 billion globally active smart electronic devices. Furthermore, smart phones, voice assistants and wearables can easily become ‘bricked’ when their physical hardware no longer supports digital updates such as the latest software.    This paper outlines initial research which begins to explore how design approaches can be harnessed to better understand how citizens’ might be empowered to increase IoT device Right-to-Repair within their local communities. Our work was carried out as part of a funded design research project which seeks to identify sustainable and equitable pathways that challenge the top-down hegemony which currently characterises IoT Right-to-Repair policy and practice.   To investigate these possibilities, the research team collaborated closely with The Making Rooms, a community makerspace and the eminent creative hub for digital innovation and fabrication in the North-West of England. The paper firstly discusses how we designed and delivered two co-design workshops (Sanders & Stappers, 2014), during the second of which we introduced Right-to-Repair speculative design probes (Tsekleves, et al, 2017). Secondly, we use thematic analysis techniques (Braun & Clarke, 2006) to map the collated workshop data. Thirdly, we discuss an initial vision for a local IoT Right-to-Repair ecosystem as co-created with participants. We conclude that our initial findings begin to contribute to growing discourse calling for community adaptation towards Circular Economy principles (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2021) to redress national and international e-waste issues.

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?? right-to-repairinternet of thingse-wastesocial innovationcircular economysustainable futures ??
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24 Oct 2022 15:25
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15 Apr 2024 23:57