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Updated: From This to This: An App. That Reveals Possibilities ( Prototype Added)

One idea that might make recycling at home easier to envision creative ways of turning waste into something useful, is to create an app. that shows what a product could be if it were recycled rather than thrown away. "From This to This" is a simple creative way to show turning waste into something useful, and at the same time demystify recycling

Photo of Kenneth Walton
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Explain your idea in one sentence

Pass your smart phone or tablet over a product that could be recycled to see what it could become.

 "From This to This"

 "From This to This" is a simple  creative way to show turning waste into something useful, and at the same time  demystify recycling. Simply pass your smart phone or tablet over a product that could be recycled to see what it could become. It is easy, educational, and hopfully helps new habits stick.

The Missions Approach

Help Habits Stick
​For recycling to become second nature, we need to find creative ways to change our behavior. How might we support new habits and make them stick?
“On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.
Interestingly, researchers also found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process.”
The “From This To This” approach to forming a recycling habit is to use 66 days as a timeline for forming the habit, but incentivize the behavior at key points along the way. The recycler would be rewarded on their first item scan for every new type of item, but then rewarded with better rewards a lesser intervals until the habit it formed 66 days later. “Enhancements the meta-data and reward system, combined with some assumptions based around the time zone of the user, and also average timings that meals are eaten at home, the right push notifications could be delivered to the user at optimum times when the user is likely to be engaging with products that need recycling, with the ultimate aim of getting the user through each day/week until a new habit has been formed. We can also a user input feature that allows the logging of when the garbage/recycling collection is going to occur to give even more trigger points for prompts ”  Teammate Daniel Kolodziej

Demystify Recycling
How can we make the process of recycling more transparent, and make our personal impact clearer? Find out more...
The root idea behind this proposal is demystifying recycling by exposing the possibilities of what the recycled product could become. Seeing is believing, and looking at a smartphone is something that has become a natural part of a lot of people’s daily life. By making it a simple and natural action; it might also be possible to make it more habitual and fun to do. Because so many different things can be created from one type of recycled product, seeing unique possibilities every time you scan would encourage repeated use.

Make It Fun
​What elements of gamification might make recycling a fun and engaging activity?
There are different levels of “gaming” Level 1- first there are two (2) modes: "Back into production" and "I'll use it up". In mode 1 the image shown when scanned would be what the item could be if it went through a typical recycle process. In mode 2 craft is added. People could add their ideas on how they use packaging or other recycled products for creating something artistic and/or technical, and enlarging gradually the possibilities and cross-inspiring. Teammate Stephan Kardos
Level-2 "Geocaching is an activity, in which the participants use a (GPS) to hide and seek items, called caches", anywhere in the world". Teammate  Jacque Harper 
In this version, players would scan an item to see what it could become, then tag the item and find it 3 times (to add difficulty) and tweet it to a “prize squad” to get a reward. “This not only acts as an incentive, but could also act as a monetization technique. The delivery and redemption of discount coupons has a tangible marketing value to brands. A San Francisco based start-up, , bases its whole business model around discount coupon redemption. This can be worth between $0.50 - $1.50 per redemption.” Teammate Daniel Kolodziej
The concept extend the familiar slogan “Refresh, Recycle, Re-use” to “ Refresh, Recycle, Re-Use, Re-Tweet and Win”

Nudge & Incentivise
Social pressure, friendly nudges and inspiring friends can all have an impact on the decisions we make. How can we harness this to improve recycling in communities?
For social pressure we are looking to the users respect for money, their value system by showing the impact in cash on recycling rather than creating a product from virgin material by way of a data sheet for each recycled product example. The nudge comes from really knowing what impact your carbon footprint has on the earth in real-time.
We would also push reminders via social media, to help keep the recycler engaged as the habit forms.
Hack Your Space
What innovative workarounds might make recycling at home easier and are there creative ways of turning waste into something useful?
For this we are looking to appeal to the Maker in everyone. “Besides showing what the raw material could become, the app could teach - by other user’s recipes - how to do increase the product cycle through handicraft.” Teammate Gustavo Dolabella
One of those recipes is depicted in the recycled robot images.

Engage Children and Young People
Young people and kids see exciting opportunities in waste; but through their influence on adults, it can be a great way to create change in all of us. As a kid I loved the cartoon version of “Fat Albert and the Cosby kids and their Junk Yard Band”. The Junk Yard Band sparked my imagination, with the very cool way their instruments were illustrated in the show: Junk recycled into useful tools that made beautiful sounds. This in fact is not much different from what I see being done by kids today, through succeeding in making a few bucks turning discarded items into music on the street corners of DC. We have illustrated this concept with the app by adding DIY Recipes as examples for kids to follow. This gives children options when thinking about what their recyclables could be, and helps to reinforce the new habit.  
Like the Fat Albert cartoon my teammate Kasia Dybek suggested linking to existing recycling games for kid as a potential data output. Whereas adults have a better capability of understanding the logistics of recycling, such as fleece jacket companies save $1,300 a day in manufacturing cost by using recycled bottles to create their jackets, a child could better understand this through interactively using games to make sense of these facts. Through the use of games such as “Recycle Roundup”, on the National Geographic Kids website, anyone could play this game and understand what materials go into different bins. This and some of the other games Kasia suggested below could be great links accessible through the app.
“We think that adding a 'social' feature like twitter to tweet out your craft work or play the “ Refresh, Recycle, Re-Use, Re-Tweet and Win” game would be fun for teens. This also demonstrate how a mass of bottles or papers can turn into something new (and great). We think it's a great feature that can be used to educate kids in kindergarten or in school about recycling and the power of the people .” Teammate Dafna Kaplan

Technical Approach

Augmented Reality Technology
I have suggested Augmented Reality (AR) as a potential solution for the “From This To This” App.“ AR is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.” For the posted prototype we used Metaio Creator one application in suite available from Metaio. For a fully developed app. with the data and gaming features suggested in the concept, we suggest the Metaio SDK as an AR solution. From This To This would be Augmented Reality Plus (AR+) by adding data and gaming to the application. 

Benefits of the Metaio SDK
Complete AR Solution
Programmable interface integrates with your existing IT-infrastructure, and manage and update your images and visual search database at anytime in the cloud.
A proven and complete AR solution that contains an award-winning tracking engine and state-of-the-art rendering.
Platform Independent
Develop natively for all major platforms including iOS, Android, Windows & Unity. Use the AREL AR scripting language to develop once and deploy everywhere.
Advanced Tracking
Reliable tracking technology for 2-D images, 3-D objects and environments, SLAM instant tracking, barcodes, QR codes, location-based tracking and continuous visual search (CVS). Recognize hundreds to thousands of images on the cloud without large download times
Continuous Visual Search (CVS)
CVS allows apps to identify objects (typically planar objects like images, posters, DVD covers, etc.) from a user created image database of several thousand to hundreds of thousands of entries.
The processing is performed in the cloud allowing very large databases to be queried with very fast reaction times in an unobtrusive experience for the end user. You can connect any kind of information to the objects within the database and, upon detection, load/display them (e.g. recycle data, earned points from your game play, tracking information related to your scanned items list).
Low cost software development kit (SDK)
SmartShape Technology
SmartShape Technology is new to me. I became aware of it only this week at the Smart America Expo. The technology uses “mobile devices and wireless chips embedded on a part (active label) that contains 3D Design data and links to smart hubs to communicate its availability, location, and shape signature information via VizSpace, a social supply chain cyber platform.” While this product is designed as disruptive tech for the supply chain, it appears to be a good way of using the shape of a item to determine what it is and its potential re-use using smart hubs. The developer Imaginestics describes it as the world's “first intuitive engine”.
Benefits of the VizSeek intuitive Engine
VizSeek, developed by Imaginestics, is the world's first intuitive engine that thinks like the human mind. When we see images, our brains use the history of what we've seen in our lifetimes to identify the objects we're viewing. VizSeek works the same, translating 3D models, 2D sketches, photographs, and even hand-drawn doodles into results you can use.

Cross Pollination Potential and Other Opportunities

Nancy Kelly’s “Recy'Cream Trucks” could be a good opportunity for concept cross pollination. The idea behind the trucks is to spur excitement in recycling by using ice cream trucks that double as mobile recycling centers. This concept can create incentives for children and adults to recycle at home.
 At a recent car show I saw the Toyota Fun VI a concept car with an element called “Digital Skin”. Abstracting this digital skin idea is where the cross pollination can occur. This could happen by adding large displays to the exterior of the “Recy'Cream Trucks” allowing the “From This To This” AR+ application to run on the truck exterior. This creates educational opportunities for the home recyclers to see what their recyclables can become, at the same time enjoying a cool treat.
Robert James “” offers another chance for concept cross pollination. Looking at the portion of the concept that is an online store featuring products made from recycled items. This would give the “From This To This” a second option in the recycle and win element of the app. The recycler could have the option to Win (keep scanning your recycled items until you Win) or Buy Now an option that could take recycler’s to to buy the recycled product now.
Other Opportunities Google Glass Killer App.?
“Google still seems to be deciding what people should actually do with Google Glass. No one knows exactly why they should buy an expensive pair of smartglasses, especially when they look unfashionable even in the most well-executed promotional shots”. The From This To This App. could be a Google Glass Killer App. Everyone is talking about “wearable’s”, but we haven’t heard much about wearable’s with a social conscious. Adding this AR+ application to Glass could be a great way for people to experience the possibilities of recycling while carrying out their daily lives wearing Google Glass, reinforcing the importance of recycling while creating new habits, and at the same time being a part of the fashion vanguard. 


 The portion of the app. that is key as proof of concept is a user interface that allows the operator to simply scan an element to see what it can become as a recycled product.
My first goal is to prototype the app.
For this I have used a demo version of Metaio Creator, a drag and drop augmented reality (AR) application, which is a part of a suite of tools that can be used to develop very simple or very complex AR applications. See the Link
The video titled “Proof of Concept Video (Prototype)” shows how the application works. For the prototype App. I have added a set of instructions  and three (3) new images  below :

App. Instructions

1. A QR code that can be used to pull up the “From This To This” application from the Junaio server. And a link to the Junaio App. Download page.

2. An image (Coke Bottle) with a note that reads Scan This Image with the Junaio App. This will serve as the recycled product in the prototype

3. The recycled product in this case a jacket made with 85% recycled plastic bottles
The Coke Bottle image can be downloaded and scanned; or enlarge and scan the image on screen. I would like to invite everyone on OpenIDEO who is willing to download the app. and give it a try, to give any feedback you are willing to offer.

App. Feedback
“Yes, I do think that it (VizSpace Smart Shape technology) is a good fit for the solution (From This To This) you are proposing” - Nainesh Rathod CEO.  Imaginestics.
“I think this would be a great tool for educating kids on the power of recycling" – Jerry W; President BMW of the Hudson Valley
“This should be done in phases; with the first phase being the cataloging of as many recycled items and their possibilities, everything else can follow in later phases” - Robin Facebook comment
“What an awesome prototype! I downloaded the app and it worked, so cool, way to go! I'm going to tweet about it and see if I can get others to try it out too :)” Karoline K OpenIDEO

"Good job! If we have a recycling team next year, we will introduce this to them."
Olatundun Teyibo
NAF Academy Director
Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School
Washington, DC 20002


Additional Ideas

Other elements could be added for education and entertainment value for example:
 Gaming-  To continue on the idea of sticking to the habit, having some games / challenges that could be done outside the app, then maybe photographed and shared on social media? Like a challenge to create a toy from few recycled items, etc. Many of these ideas already exist out there, but it's again about reinforcing and repeating so it sticks and also getting all existing assets together and create more holistic app for the whole family.
 Teammate Kasia Dybek suggested more online games and ideas here:

This could also be a database that keeps track of the scanned products and after a number of products have been collected the recycler could win the item. For example scan 100 plastic bottles, and win a fleece jacket. Add a GPS component and make the winning item selection based on the user location (a fleece in Boston or swimming trunks in Miami)

Shopping - If you cannot wait to win it, find out where to buy it; or as my teammate OpenIDEOer Shimolee Nahar suggested connect people with individual craftsmen/makers (like on etsy) who can make the product and sell it to the person who recycles and is interested.

Data- Find a way of tracking how much I recycled, or use Shimolee Nahar idea Mr. Recycle is a service model that works on rewarding consumers for their good behaviors, and uses retailers and the suppliers as a facilitator. It benefits the retailer through the sale of uncontaminated packaging materials and improving brand loyalty. It extends the idea of product stewardship to daily use, low value product.

Each of these ideas ( gaming, shopping, data) could be a set of quick links that appear when the product is scanned and disappear after a short period. Giving the user enough time to select the link or move on

Key Team Process Comments and Recommendations

OpenIDEOer and teammate Stephan Kardos added- What if the app also shows what you can make out of the product? That is recycling it by using it to create something. You could have 2 modes: "Back into production" / "I'll use it up". People could add their ideas on how they use packaging for doing creating something enlarging gradually the possibilities and cross-inspiring.
OpenIDEOer and teammate Gustavo Dolabella added this comment -The app could suggest DYI solutions for the user. Besides showing what the raw material could become, the app could teach - by other users recipes - how to do increase the product cycle through handicraft. By inviting the users for collaborating with their own solutions for re-using, " you would be able to design a whole community" to support the idea and engage even more people.

OpenIDEOer and teammate Antonin Jirou-Najou  In order to promote this app as well as enriching the database and the possibilities for recycling, this app should partner with companies so they can actually show what they can do with recycled items and provide their resources to develop it. A good way to reach global awareness!

OpenIDEOer Jacque Harper and teammate Make it a location-aware app (think geo-fencing) or website with locale searching could guide consumers on the availability of recycling for the different materials in the city or county in which they are currently standing

OpenIDEOer  Dafna Kaplan: and teammate I would, however, add a 'social' feature and demonstrate how a mass of bottles or papers can turn into something new (and great). Also, it's a great feature that can be used to educate kids in kindergarten or in school about recycling and the power of the people. Just a thought :-)
As some of my teammates and others have suggested, the app. could have several elements developed shopping, gaming, data etc…

Thanks to the OpenIDEO Team
Karoline and Meena

Describe how your idea would help form new habits and improve recycling at home

Seeing is believing showing people the impacts they can have on the creation of new things from old ones is inspiring.

How might you design an early, lightweight experiment to further develop your idea?

The app. could have several elements developed shopping, gaming, data etc… However the part of the app. that is key as proof of concept is a user interface that allows the operator to simply scan an element to see what it can become as a recycled product.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input of our OpenIDEO community?

Help brainstorm product ideas
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Team (9)

Stephan's profile
Kenneth's profile
Gustavo's profile
Gustavo Dolabella

Role added on team:

"I would like to add you to the team"

Antonin's profile
Antonin Jirou-Najou

Role added on team:

"I think that is a great Idea, I will add it to the post and you to this team if that is OK."

Jacque's profile
Dafna's profile
Dafna Kaplan

Role added on team:

"great comment"

Shimolee's profile
Shimolee Nahar

Role added on team:

"Thanks for the great comments and ideas"

Daniel's profile
Daniel Kolodziej

Role added on team:

"Thank Dan, Welcome to the team, feel free to draw something up that introduces a game aspect to the concept."

Kasia's profile
Kasia Dybek

Role added on team:

"Thanks for the comments"


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Photo of Mick

We wrote an article about clever ways to recycle wallpaper. Seems like it might fit here:

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