eCycle Hubs

eCycle Hubs allow PC gamers to easily recycle, reuse or repurpose parts from their computer. Each hub is constructed at a local community center and allows for the donating, picking up, or recycling of the PC parts through realtime inventory tracking. This project was created over the course of four months as part of the Design Foundations class in the MSHCI program at Georgia Tech.

Project Information

Problem Space Overview

The recycling and repurposing of computer parts is a current challenge in our society. PC gamers contribute to this e-waste as the industry in 2019 made up 24% of the entire market share of online gamers. With every year that passes, hardware processing speeds begin to dwindle, and new computing parts become available to purchase. 

The challenge presented was to create an easier way for PC gamers to be more sustainable with their computing parts.

Personal Contributions

The following project activities are how I contributed to the overall success of our project:

  • Survey creation and interview preparation
  • Analysis of data collected using affinity diagraming
  • Brainstorming and ideation for product development
  • Low/Medium/High Fidelity Functional Prototypes
  • Design evaluation using specific methods to get the best information possible

Phase 1: Research

During our initial research, we found literature regarding the common characteristics that gamers have. However, articles that focus on gamers’ sustainable habits are limited. Therefore, we used online forums and resources that could give us a more current understanding of how the PC gaming community manages their outdated or damaged computer parts. To gather more hands on information, we conducted further investigation by visiting electronic equipment stores around the Atlanta area such as Micro Center and Best Buy to understand recycling and electronic waste management policies. 

Additionally, we conducted an initial interview with a member of our target user group who is a member of the e-sports club at an Atlanta university. We found that the information gathered throughout this interview was insightful in better understanding PC gamers’ recycling habits and continued to explore our users and problem space through surveys, contextual inquiries, and interviews.

Competitive Analysis

Objective: To understand how different electronics stores currently take care of e-waste. 

Methods: We investigated electronic stores’ websites, marketplaces, Reddit forums, and current electronic recycling apps: 
  • eBay and Facebook Marketplace
  • r/hardwareswap and r/buildapcsales
  • Best Buy and Goodwill
  • iRecycle

Survey Distribution

Objective: Gain information about PC gamers demographics and recycling, reusing, and disposal habits while screening and recruiting interview participants.

Methods: We developed a 20 question survey using Qualtrics XM and distributed it onto five Discord servers.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
Data Analysis: We received 90 responses within seven days of distribution. Out of the 90 respondents, only 81 of them responded that they have built a gaming PC, we only counted their responses for the rest of our analysis. 
Findings
  • The majority of respondents indicated that they store the PC parts they don’t need instead of selling, reusing, or recycling them.
  • More than 50% of our respondents indicated that they bought their PC parts online.
  • More than half of respondents prefer to buy new PC parts instead of refurbished ones.

Semi-Structured Interviews

Objective: Understand users’ attitudes and behaviors towards the process of getting rid of PC parts they no longer need. 

Rationale: Semi-structured interview will allow us to ask follow-up questions to get a deeper understanding of their pain points and other insights. 

Data Analysis: To perform the affinity mapping activity, we entered our interview notes and transcripts into a spreadsheet. Then, we added them to Miro board and created an affinity diagram. Individually, we walked the wall and brainstormed design ideas, then came back together to discuss further implications.

Findings/Insights

Phase 2: Design Requirements

Based on our research findings and insights, we came up with eight design requirements for our prototype: 

Phase 3: Prototype Design

Design Ideation

During our brainstorming activities, we utilized methods such as SCAMPER and Mind Mapping to create ten unique ideas to discuss further. The main idea chosen was eCycle Hubs. We created a storyboard to show the path a user would take via a comic strip style graphic.

High Fidelity Prototypes

For our high fidelity prototype, we created three processes that the user would perform based on what they are trying to accomplish at the community center. Each process is listed below with a brief description and a button to the Figma prototype.

Recycling Walkthrough

Recycling: The recycling functionality allows users to simply discard non-functioning PC parts into a bin to be properly disposed of. Items that are put into the bin would be picked up by electronic recycling companies and sorted at their individual warehouse. Users gain ePoints when they confirm that an item has been recycled!

Donating Walkthrough

Donating: The donating functionality allows users to place unwanted (but still functional) items onto a shelf in the community center for others to come and claim at a later time. Key product data is input by the user who is donating to give an overall understanding of what the item is, the brand, any extra information about it, and what it looks like. Users gain ePoints when they confirm they have placed an item onto the donation shelf! 

Claiming Walkthrough

Claiming: The claiming functionality allows users to pick up parts that have been graciously donated by other eCycle Hubs users. Through a real time inventory tracking system, the web app is able to keep an updated list of items that are currently on the shelf and ready to be claimed. A reservation process is optional if the user is unable to make it to the community center quickly and a 24 hour limit is attached to that specific item. Users gain ePoints when they confirm they have claimed an item!

Phase 4: Design Evaluation

Evaluation Method Design Requirement #1 

“The design should require little time and effort for the user.”

We tested this requirement by performing a usability test with the goal to understand the time and success rate of users going through our prototype.

We gave our participants three core tasks that were pertinent to the core functionality of eCycle Hubs: recycling donating and claiming used items.

Evaluation Method Design Requirement #2

“The design should provide transparency and extensive information. “

We tested this requirement with follow-up questions after the usability test, and we also sent out a Likert scale questionnaire and a heuristic evaluation. 

Data Analysis: For the first design requirement, we utilized Qualtrics automatic reports to analyze the SUS questionnaire ratings. Also, we compared the completion time and success rates of tasks in an Excel spreadsheet.

For the second design requirement, we used the Qualtrics automatic report system to analyze the responses from the Likert Scale and Heuristic Evaluation. We also identified common themes from follow-up questions responses using an Excel spreadsheet. ​​​​​​​