The E-CO cup will adapt existing reusable cup designs and incorporate a technology-enabled feature. The cup technology will sync with smart home, car, and phone technology, including voice-activated programming capability. Syncing will allow the person to use smart home/car/phone tech to program the cup for reminders, etc. Also, the cup can be used to program the smart home/car technology. The cup design will offer easy-to-program cup reminders for cleaning and use of the cup (similar to the reminder alarm clock system of "Reminder Rosie"). The cup, as an option, can incorporate in its design a wifi touchscreen on the cup surface (offering similar advantages to those of the "Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator", but, of course, on a much smaller and personal scale).
One of the key issues in the use of reusable cups is that people forget to bring the cup with them when they leave their home/office, etc. By enabling users to program into the cup visual or auditory or vibrating reminders that emanate from the cup itself, we hope to help people set-up reminders with the ultimate goal of establishing the habit of carrying their reusable cups with them. Another issue with using a reusable cup is cleaning it. Reminders can be set for cleaning also. There are many potential uses and tech-advantages of the tech-enabled cup. For example, it can be put by the bedside and replace a person's alarm clock; it can be put on a person's desk at work and be programmed with task reminders; it can be placed in the cup-holder in a car and provide easy-access and a stable platform for music, audiobooks, etc., either via the cup's internal tech features or by the phone having a surface where the user can attach a smart phone.
Also, cups, as in any small mobile device, can be misplaced in the home, etc. The cup technology will enable cup location detection via hand-clap and/or smart home/car/phone command with the cup producing an auditory or visual signal response.
Current, existing reusable cup designs (that already meet the Challenge cup criteria in terms of hot/cold beverage temperatures, food/beverage health safety, etc.) will be modified to create a flat side to the cup. This side will have the built-in tech-interface technology. It can also be used for the optional wifi touchscreen or can be used as a surface for attaching a smart phone or exercise/vital sign-monitoring (e.g. fitbit) device, etc. The cup surface design will adequately insulate the tech components from the cup contents and maintain tech function despite internal hot/cold beverage temperatures and potential exposure to liquids (e.g. spilling of cup contents, cleaning, etc.).
The cup will become key to the person's personal technology advantage and will help the customer with day-to-day activities as well as eco-friendly reminders.
To create the E-CO cup design prototype, I want to establish a consortium of companies ("E-CO") that will co-own and collaborate in design and production and marketing of the cup. These companies will also work with retailers of to-go beverages to design and create drive-through mechanisms that allow drive-through customers to set the reusable cup on a stable counter at the drive-through window, and then allow baristas to pour prepared drinks into the reusable cups while meeting all public health food and drink safety standards. The cup technology will be designed so the cup can be scanned quickly at retailers to tally use and allow retailers to provide awards based on frequency of use.
The cup will be marketed as a revolutionary reusable cup design. As part of the marketing campaign, users will be invited to use their cup technology to share photographs, videos, and stories of their cup use and eco-journeys. These will be shared with the consortium of the E-CO Cup companies and will be loaded on a public online platform. Some of these photos/videos/ stories will be selected for use in E-CO cup ad and marketing campaigns. Cup users who share their stories will be honored as eco-champions. There will be an E-CO Cup Champions award given to the cup users who have the most inspiring stories and who demonstrate that they are taking action to be strong environmental champions in their communities.
When the cup is purchased, a percentage of the cost will be donated to an organization that helps promote environmental sustainability. The organization selected to benefit from the cup purchase can be rotated every few months. Organizations selected to benefit from the cup purchase will help promote/market the cup.
I am an Organizer of the OpenIDEO Austin Chapter. Our Chapter held 2 events, September 26 and October 3, 2018, to do preliminary research for the NextGen Cup Challenge, including a expert panel presentation on the cup ecosystem in Austin. During the week between the 2 events, we had teams do field research at various locations in Austin to learn about the cup user experience and we created journey maps. I used the input received at these events and from the community research to inform my idea.
Here is the shareable link to the folder (view only) that contains our Chapter's Community Research Report (key documents, journey maps, and photos/video): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1P6VeUZnhLpmI41Ca_g-bEH6Ity6e-2Q7?usp=sharing.
The research convinced me that a reusable cup (accompanied by extensive and persistent marketing strategies) is the way to proceed. The disposal/recycling/composting of non-reusable to-go cups is highly complex and is fraught with user confusion and mistakes, leading to products still going into the landfills despite the best of efforts. In order to mobilize acceptance and global use of the reusable cup, the cup design needs to be exciting and unique and incorporate a tech appeal similar to the cell phone. People need ways to remind themselves to use the cup in order to ingrain the habit of bringing their cup with them. Retailers and society as a whole need to provide incentives and recognitions for people who use the cup.
The marketing strategy for the reusable E-CO cup will emphasize and prioritize cup recycling and will encourage the recycling of mobile devices in general. Recycling avenues are outlined below in the sections "How is your concept recoverable?" and "How have you incorporated additional sustainability attributes (beyond recoverability) into your solution?" The "E-CO" consortium companies will be prominent leaders and drivers of "zero waste" (offering a reusable/recyclable alternative to the fiber cup as well as a comprehensive and evolving cup design and recycling strategy to reduce e-waste for the cup as well as other mobile devices.). The environmental benefits of recycling the E-CO cup and other mobile devices (e.g. the cell phone) are identified in this article: https://www.thoughtco.com/why-recycle-cell-phones-1204065.
The name "E-CO" evokes the eco-friendly reusable design. It also represents the revolutionary electronic/tech capability of the cup and the innovative organization of a consortium of companies to design, produce, and market the cup collaboratively. Let the design of the cup symbolize and demonstrate that we are all in this together and we must co-create to address the environmental challenges of our time.