UX Sustainability in AI-Infused Objects

Thursday 27 October // 16:15 // Auditorium

AI-infused objects are smart objects that incorporate artificial intelligence to enhance their functionality (Vitali, 2022). They encompass smart speakers and wearable gadgets, such as smartwatches. These objects are cyber-physical (Agrò, 2018), networked, and connected to other products through wired and wireless communication technologies, forming an ecosystem of touchpoints (Abramovici, 2014; Greengard, 2015). They are designed to gather and analyze data, aiming to provide users with personalised feedback even proactively. AI-infused objects forming product-service ecosystems are increasingly permeating our daily lives and households, projected to range from 5 billion in 2020 to over 200 billion products by 2030 (CISCO, 2020). In this context, electronic components will be integrated into common appliances, transforming them into more sophisticated systems interconnected via the Internet and mobile networks (ITU, 2020). In this scenario, due to the surge in AI-infused objects, the role of the designer is evolving, entailing changes in both the design process and environmental considerations, underscoring the imperative to assess their environmental impact. The research aims to support designers in investigating the user experience environmental impact of AI-infused objects forming product-service ecosystems, to bring awareness on the cause-effect of the impact generated. In this context, the user experience perspective could be a pivotal analysis to grasp the impact of continuous usage of these objects (Kcaak et al., 2019). It implies understanding users, usage data, and context, within a “systems thinking” (Pigosso, 2015) approach. This enables them to comprehend and balance the impact generated with the value provided to users (Kim, 2020). Designers should recognize that every decision in their design process has an environmental impact. Therefore, the experiences they create must justify the impact they generate (Monteiro, 2019). This echoes one of the oldest concepts in the relationship between sustainability and design by Papanek (1971).