PSFK Talks To Dietmar Offenhuber Of MIT’s Trash Track

PSFK Talks To Dietmar Offenhuber Of MIT’s Trash Track

PSFK talks to Dietmar Offenhuber to get his insight on the future of design and technology.

Kyle Studstill
  • 10 december 2009

PSFK Talks To Dietmar Offenhuber Of MIT's Trash Track-2

PSFK Talks To Dietmar Offenhuber Of MIT's Trash Track-3

PSFK has been talking with artists and innovators that we have covered over the last year to get their insight on the future of design and technology.

Using electronic tags to trace the things we throw away as they move through the entire disposal system, the Trash Track project begs the question “why do we know so much about the supply chain, but so little about the ‘removal chain’?”

By monitoring the time and costs associated with transporting our garbage to dumps and landfills, the MIT team hopes to provide deeper insight into our consumer habits, as well as highlight any inefficiencies in the recycling and sanitation systems. Below, project leader Dietmar Offenhuber, M.S shares his thoughts with us.

What other projects or ideas are currently inspiring your thinking as you continue to develop TrashTalk?

With Trash Track, we stumbled upon a number of really interesting problems, that we are planning to investigate further. we are planning to investigate the travel of e-waste, and started to study the behavioral impact of the results of trash track on the participating volunteers. Also the idea of citizen science, allowing everyone to monitor their waste has been discussed.

What has been the most interesting response or reaction to your project?

The most interesting thing was the emotional and enthusiastic response of most people to the project. We were surprised to see how important it is for citizens to understand the processes of their city.

What is something you look forward to being able to do in the future with emerging technologies?

In the context of Trash Track, we are very interested in energy harvesting location sensors – tags that dont require a battery, instead draw their electrical power from the cell phone network or kinetic energy.

What do you see as the best and worst technology-driven trends emerging in the design of social projects?

Best and worst is of course a matter of timing, scope and context, but i think that all the current collaborative sensing approaches, where people collect and share sensor data in order to learn something about their environment are very interesting – a bottom up approach that makes us more independent from central institutions holding data repositories.

What is your take on how people are using technology to better connect with either each other or their environments?

I think this is always an opportunistic thing. people like to appropriate technologies that were designed for a different purpose, or just ignore them no matter how interesting the concept is. i think it is interesting to observe what technology actually does, not just speculate about its promises.

Thanks Dietmar!

Trash Track


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