When my team got together to discuss the ideas we had, we decided to join various aspects of different ideas and came up with a more abstract way of representing the data. I keep thinking this is a risk, but I tend to always do things literally because the information could be presented more clearly and I prefer this, but I was willing to go out of my comfort zone and try something new, abstract and engaging but still communicate the message of the e-waste production by continent and the amount that it is being recycled.
We thought we could hang little balls from the ceiling. Each ball would represent 1mT and they will be colour coded by continent. Thus people will see rows of little balls floating around. There would be a second level of green balls that would reflect the amount of e-waste being recycled so that people could compare the quantity of recycled e-waste and non-recycled e-waste and also evaluate this in relationship to other continents.
However, this wasn’t interesting enough, and we wanted to someone keep it abstract but relate the material to e-waste. Thus we shifted the idea a little bit and decided we could have bulls hanging instead of balls. We could actually use damaged bulbs that people were about to throw away to represent the total e-waste produce by each continent (1 bulb = 1 mT) and we could have to functional bulbs that would actually light up to represent the e-waste that is recycled. They would light up because there was still life in them and they could be reused. This concept is shown in the sketch below
However, when we started to think about how to make this idea come to life we realised it was more complicated than we actually thought. Although it would be absolutely beautiful to have bulbs hanging from the ceiling with hanging sockets colour coded that represented each continent like shown in the image below. This would simply be too expensive, and it would also me very difficult to find all the plug necessary to give energy to 9 bulbs and they would have to be connected independently. So we started thinking about different materials and ways of creating light without the use of cables.
Instead of using bulbs, we came back to the idea of having balls represent the data, but we still wanted to include light as a representation on e-waste being recycled, and we found the following object that could communicate what we wanted.
We really liked this, because it has a good size, it is somewhat transparent so it allow light to pass by but you can’t see the inside and it gives us access to the inside of the ball to somehow give it energy. The problem was that we needed it in various colours, so we started trying out different paints and different thicknesses to see what looked better.
We used fabric paint for this and it didn’t really give us the result we wanted, the ball on the left is not smoothly painted and it is not aesthetically pleasant, so we started mixing paint with a lot of water and we came with the result on the right, but the ball started falling apart because it could resist too much humidity and the fabric started to dissolve, so we came up with an intermediate mixture of water and paint and simple threw the ball in this mixture it worked (ball in the middle) it gave a smooth aspect and it was still transparent enough to let the light through.
With regards to the light problem, this was harder to solve. We looked at different bulbs and different electric circuits to see what we could use and we did some testing and prototyping as shown in the following images
The balls looked great, the problem with the electric christmas lights we bought is that it didn’t give us the length we wanted, they were too separated from each other, they wouldn’t fall smoothly and we couldn’t manage to turn on some bulbs and leave the other on as it a series electronic circuit. So we started researching and talking to engineers to find out different ways of creating light without cables and connections and we came up with the idea of using a Coin Cell battery and connecting it directly to a low consumption LED as shown in the image below. This would allow us to simply paste the battery inside the fabric ball that would represent the recycled e-waste and and add a LED to it to create light.