Sustainability, behavioral design that wants to change habits

It detaches from the ground and rises vertically over the city like a helicopter. PopUp, the electric car prototype developed by Italdesign in collaboration with Airbus, was designed to travel on the road and fly. But the promise of sustainable mobility does not end there: the experience must be unique, just like each of the users. The various interfaces, adopted by Polytechnic in Turin, exploit the interaction and transform themselves into an improvement of their own personal devicein augmented workstation and connection, in augmented reality able to interact with context.

Each interface is capable of generating new services and, above all, new connected behaviors. Behavior that is at the core of behavioral design, an approach that is widely used for products and services based on sustainability. “That behavioral design it is widespread in contexts where lifestyles are planned, solutions are sought in the food, mobility and automotive industries, the health sector. In short, in all areas where there is an environmental and social impact “, explains Pier Paolo Peruccio, Professor of Design at the Polytechnic in Turin and member of the World Design Organization, a non-profit organization that is an advisory body to the UN and offers its contribution to how design can contribute to the 2030 Agenda’s goals for sustainable development.

What is behavioral design

That behavioral designbranch of behavioral science, is a field of study that integrates different disciplines, from design to economics, from psychology to information technology. But the link between environment and behavioral science this is not new. In the 1960s, the planet Earth was represented as a spaceship and The spaceship Earth became the metaphor for expressing the limits of resources. Metaphor, Peruccio recalls, taken up in 2007 by David Houle (“The shift age”) to send a message to the inhabitants of the planet: We must not act as passengers, but as stewardesses who take care of the spaceship. This new era of change will be driven by consciousness. Awareness that any choice has consequences for us and the environment. And remember Peruccio, knowledge of the project, “project“Derived from Latin”project», Or« to launch forward », to get an idea of ​​the future. Which relates to the change you want to stimulate. It is no coincidence that the first national master’s degree in behavioral design will have a home in Ivrea, as part of the Ico Valley, an industrial project aimed at creating a digital laboratory on the challenges of digital transformation and sustainability.

The roots of the Canavese region

“The academy wants to collect the cultural heritage from the Interaction Design Institute, where the Arduino project was born, and feeds the whole idea of ​​Adriano Olivetti, who perceived companies not only as production sites but as engines of cultural growth in the area, change the behavior of employees and residents “says Peruccio, who will be the coordinator of the second-level master” Behavioral Design. Systems, Interactions and Strategies for Digital “curated by Turin Polytechnic – which has been researching sustainability issues in systemic design for twenty years – in collaboration with the University of Turin and Confindustria Canavese.The guiding discipline on the trail, which has the support of players like Huawei and Tim, will beinteraction design, where the interaction can be compared to a behavior because it involves reciprocal actions of two interlocutors in a context. Context that must be designed correctly and appropriately with an ethical component and therefore a sense of collective responsibility.

How is behavior handled?

First of all, we are moving from a purely sanctioning, punitive logic to a logic that rewards. “For example, in addition to sanctioning the wrong drivers, why not reward the virtuous? The game dynamics are used a lot, thereby motivating people to participate, we want to increasecommitment, the desire to get involved »adds Peruccio. In the smart district of Uptown in Milan, the analysis of data on lifestyle and interviews with people thus led to a “Manual for living in a smart district”, where infographics illustrating the consequences of, for example, different types of waste disposal and composting become an opportunity to encourage the participation of all and to talk about natural cycles and nutrition involving the inhabitants. Or again in the concept developed for the Italian Blind Union, the interaction was understood as a gesture for the benefit of blind or partially sighted children improved: the smartphone keyboard was equipped with intelligent materials that were able to perceive the touch, with the temperature and the different textures, some gestures coded to convey one’s feelings to the other person.

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