iPhone, who's buying... /sustainable design

11 Jul 2007 - 12:42pm
7 years ago
8 replies
763 reads
White, Jeff
2007

I'm going off on two tangents here that may or may be related to each
other and the original post. Sorry. :-)

All this chatter about battery life is reminding me of an awesome
presentation I saw at CHI 07: sustainable design. Maybe some of you saw
this presentation as well. To summarize - what impact do the designs we
create have on the environment around us? Especially those of you
designing tangible products like mobile phones.

Pauric asked if charging a product is part of the holistic experience of
using it. I think it clearly is, just by the amount of discussion today
about charging the iPhone.

So, to bring this together: what role do (or should) interaction
designers play when it comes to things like battery life and what does
it have to do with sustainable design? Would any of you who have the
iPhone trade out some of the battery sucking functionality in exchange
for a better experience with keeping the darn thing charged? Maybe less
functionality and a better experience now with the iPhone would
encourage further adoption in the future, when the battery issue
improves. I don't know, just asking the question.

What does it have to with sustainable design? Battery chargers consume
electricity, even when not plugged into a phone. Most people, including
me, leave the charger plugged into the wall and hook it up to the phone
when needed. This has an impact on our environment. So maybe an
interaction designer should have stepped in and encouraged apple to come
up with a charger that doesn't drain electricity from your wall outlet
when you have it plugged in but aren't actually charging the phone.
Maybe interaction design needs to be expanded to consider not just how
users interact with a product, but how that product interacts with the
environment around it.

Jeff

Comments

11 Jul 2007 - 2:12pm
Dave Malouf
2005

question to Jeff,
Does using a USB to charge (leaving the cable in the USB port, also
drain electricity like leaving a charger in the wall? Just a
question. B/c I charge using USB w/ the dock and not using the plug.
(my blackberry did this as well).

Pauric, asked the question, what does the iPhone teach me as an IxD.

I posted a short review to my blog (I felt obliged), the main take
away as a designer is to get fewer features done right, than to get
even important features in half-baked. This to me is the most
important design lesson I learned from the iPhone experience.

for example, I find that the gesture for sliding to initiate the
delete flow doesn't work from a usability perspective, but I'm
compelled to use it more than the alternatively available flow which
is the toggle all, then select select (3 clicks for 1 delete.)

so the lesson learned here is that not everything that fails is a
failure. ;)

I would say otherwise that I learn from every product that I use on a
daily basis. Everything I use, I explore from teh designer
perspective. I am a walking heuristic and design critique.

-- dave
http://synapticburn.com/

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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12 Jul 2007 - 2:45am
Alexander Baxevanis
2007

<putting on my electrical engineer hat>

USB charging obviously drains some energy from your laptop's battery
or makes it drain more power from the plug if it's plugged in. So it's
not 'free', in some cases it may actually be less efficient because of
more conversions in the energy path. e.g. from the plug to the laptop
battery, then from the laptop battery to USB, from USB to the correct
voltage for iPhone charging etc. When you have a USB cable connected
to your computer with nothing on the other end, it does not consume
any power.

By the way, I don't think it's rocket science to make a charger that
consumes nothing when the phone is not plugged in. But it would
definitely add to the design and manufacturing cost and with mobile
manufacturers' profit margins being pushed down, investing in
eco-friendly chargers is probably still low in their list of
priorities.

A couple of months ago, Nokia launched "the first mobile phones to
include alerts encouraging people to unplug the charger once the
battery is full" (http://www.nokia.com/A4136001?newsid=1125979).
Sounds great on paper, but are you really going to pay attention to
this alert when you're grabbing your phone and rushing out of the
house? Or will it be just a little annoyance that people will just
learn to ignore?

If we want to pursue sustainable design, it has to be like any other
form of design, taking into account how people behave.

On 7/11/07, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
> question to Jeff,
> Does using a USB to charge (leaving the cable in the USB port, also
> drain electricity like leaving a charger in the wall? Just a
> question. B/c I charge using USB w/ the dock and not using the plug.
> (my blackberry did this as well).

12 Jul 2007 - 5:12am
Dave Malouf
2005

I'm sorry. I don't think my question was clear.

If I leave a USB cable plugged into my desktop or laptop and Iphone
dock is at the other end, but no phone, am I draining more
electricity? Just curious. What if I only use the cable and there is
no device at all?

David Malouf
dave at synapticburn.com
http://synapticburn.com
http://ixda.org
Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 12, 2007, at 3:45 AM, "Alexander Baxevanis" <alex.baxevanis at gmail.com
> wrote:

> <putting on my electrical engineer hat>
>
> USB charging obviously drains some energy from your laptop's battery
> or makes it drain more power from the plug if it's plugged in. So it's
> not 'free', in some cases it may actually be less efficient because of
> more conversions in the energy path. e.g. from the plug to the laptop
> battery, then from the laptop battery to USB, from USB to the correct
> voltage for iPhone charging etc. When you have a USB cable connected
> to your computer with nothing on the other end, it does not consume
> any power.
>
> By the way, I don't think it's rocket science to make a charger that
> consumes nothing when the phone is not plugged in. But it would
> definitely add to the design and manufacturing cost and with mobile
> manufacturers' profit margins being pushed down, investing in
> eco-friendly chargers is probably still low in their list of
> priorities.
>
> A couple of months ago, Nokia launched "the first mobile phones to
> include alerts encouraging people to unplug the charger once the
> battery is full" (http://www.nokia.com/A4136001?newsid=1125979).
> Sounds great on paper, but are you really going to pay attention to
> this alert when you're grabbing your phone and rushing out of the
> house? Or will it be just a little annoyance that people will just
> learn to ignore?
>
> If we want to pursue sustainable design, it has to be like any other
> form of design, taking into account how people behave.
>
> On 7/11/07, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
>> question to Jeff,
>> Does using a USB to charge (leaving the cable in the USB port, also
>> drain electricity like leaving a charger in the wall? Just a
>> question. B/c I charge using USB w/ the dock and not using the plug.
>> (my blackberry did this as well).

12 Jul 2007 - 5:13am
jstrande
2007

Dave, great blog post! The trash can animation is truly amazing, and I have
deleted a couple of pictures just to show people that.

As for the sustainable design.... absent as far as I can tell on the iPhone
or any of its packaging, is any RoHS or WEEE designation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restriction_of_Hazardous_Substances_Directive

RoHS is a European Union directive to restrict the use of certain hazardous
substances (Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Hex Crom, etc) in electronic devices.

WEEE is a also a EU directive, this one sets targets for recycling of
"e-waste" - to control the amount of old electronic stuff that makes it in
to landfills.

There are some exemptions to this, but as I understand it the iPhone would
certainly fall in to category 4, consumer equipment. Not sure if the iPhone
complies with California SB20 directive.

Working for a global electronics manufacturer, I'm well aware of this stuff
and some of the criticism about the lead-free solder reliability and
tin-whiskering is valid - which is why apple might have chosen to ignore it
(?).

Jon

P.S. I ended up getting my own iPhone.

On 7/12/07, Alexander Baxevanis <alex.baxevanis at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> <putting on my electrical engineer hat>
>
> USB charging obviously drains some energy from your laptop's battery
> or makes it drain more power from the plug if it's plugged in. So it's
> not 'free', in some cases it may actually be less efficient because of
> more conversions in the energy path. e.g. from the plug to the laptop
> battery, then from the laptop battery to USB, from USB to the correct
> voltage for iPhone charging etc. When you have a USB cable connected
> to your computer with nothing on the other end, it does not consume
> any power.
>
> By the way, I don't think it's rocket science to make a charger that
> consumes nothing when the phone is not plugged in. But it would
> definitely add to the design and manufacturing cost and with mobile
> manufacturers' profit margins being pushed down, investing in
> eco-friendly chargers is probably still low in their list of
> priorities.
>
> A couple of months ago, Nokia launched "the first mobile phones to
> include alerts encouraging people to unplug the charger once the
> battery is full" (http://www.nokia.com/A4136001?newsid=1125979).
> Sounds great on paper, but are you really going to pay attention to
> this alert when you're grabbing your phone and rushing out of the
> house? Or will it be just a little annoyance that people will just
> learn to ignore?
>
> If we want to pursue sustainable design, it has to be like any other
> form of design, taking into account how people behave.
>
> On 7/11/07, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
> > question to Jeff,
> > Does using a USB to charge (leaving the cable in the USB port, also
> > drain electricity like leaving a charger in the wall? Just a
> > question. B/c I charge using USB w/ the dock and not using the plug.
> > (my blackberry did this as well).
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12 Jul 2007 - 5:26am
Alexander Baxevanis
2007

Just to make this clear, the USB cable (and most probably, the dock)
are completely "passive" devices, and will not consume any energy
unless a phone is plugged in the other end.

On 7/12/07, David Malouf <dave.ixd at gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm sorry. I don't think my question was clear.
>
> If I leave a USB cable plugged into my desktop or laptop and Iphone
> dock is at the other end, but no phone, am I draining more
> electricity? Just curious. What if I only use the cable and there is
> no device at all?
>
> David Malouf
> dave at synapticburn.com
> http://synapticburn.com
> http://ixda.org
> Sent from my iPhone
>
> On Jul 12, 2007, at 3:45 AM, "Alexander Baxevanis" <alex.baxevanis at gmail.com
> > wrote:
>
> > <putting on my electrical engineer hat>
> >
> > USB charging obviously drains some energy from your laptop's battery
> > or makes it drain more power from the plug if it's plugged in. So it's
> > not 'free', in some cases it may actually be less efficient because of
> > more conversions in the energy path. e.g. from the plug to the laptop
> > battery, then from the laptop battery to USB, from USB to the correct
> > voltage for iPhone charging etc. When you have a USB cable connected
> > to your computer with nothing on the other end, it does not consume
> > any power.
> >
> > By the way, I don't think it's rocket science to make a charger that
> > consumes nothing when the phone is not plugged in. But it would
> > definitely add to the design and manufacturing cost and with mobile
> > manufacturers' profit margins being pushed down, investing in
> > eco-friendly chargers is probably still low in their list of
> > priorities.
> >
> > A couple of months ago, Nokia launched "the first mobile phones to
> > include alerts encouraging people to unplug the charger once the
> > battery is full" (http://www.nokia.com/A4136001?newsid=1125979).
> > Sounds great on paper, but are you really going to pay attention to
> > this alert when you're grabbing your phone and rushing out of the
> > house? Or will it be just a little annoyance that people will just
> > learn to ignore?
> >
> > If we want to pursue sustainable design, it has to be like any other
> > form of design, taking into account how people behave.
> >
> > On 7/11/07, David Malouf <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
> >> question to Jeff,
> >> Does using a USB to charge (leaving the cable in the USB port, also
> >> drain electricity like leaving a charger in the wall? Just a
> >> question. B/c I charge using USB w/ the dock and not using the plug.
> >> (my blackberry did this as well).
>

12 Jul 2007 - 8:31am
Todd Warfel
2003

Amen!

On Jul 11, 2007, at 3:12 PM, David Malouf wrote:

> so the lesson learned here is that not everything that fails is a
> failure. ;)

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
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12 Jul 2007 - 1:46pm
Morten Hjerde
2007

> It seems that Apple has taken a different approach to scrappy releases.
> The one I get from looking at the iPhone is this:
>
> We can't give you everything. But what we will give you will be (arguably)
> flawless (from a designer perspective).
>
> This to me is the big lesson from iPhone for designers. Obviously, you
> can't do everything, but if you are going to do it, "Wow them, baby!"

The quote is printed out and and is now hanging on my wall :-)

23 Jul 2007 - 12:43pm
Matt Rehkopf
2007

For those interested, I have started a Google Group to discuss designing for the iPhone.

http://groups.google.com/group/iphoneusability

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