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Extending the lifespan of mobile devices

 

Extending the service life of smartphones and other Internet-enabled mobile devices could significantly reduce their ecological footprint. In pursuit of this, it will be necessary to develop innovative approaches that are both economically viable and appealing to consumers.

Project description (ongoing research project)

Mobile Internet-enabled devices have their greatest negative environmental impact during production. This has been demonstrated by the “Digital Sufficiency” study, on which this project builds. From the perspective of a resource-efficient economy, it is therefore crucial that consumers use such devices for as long as possible before buying a new one.

To understand the subject area in its entirety, we will analyse not only the factors that motivate users to buy and use mobile devices, but also the viewpoint of various market players, such as repair shops or second-hand device sales platforms. We are also developing innovative approaches to extending the service life of mobile devices (e.g. rental models) and assessing their direct and indirect impact on the environment.

Background

Until now, approaches to extending the lifespan of mobile devices (e.g. repairs or passing them on to a new owner) have only been looked at in isolation and little unsystematically. Above all, there is no in-depth understanding of consumers’ decision-making processes. Building on our current expertise in digital sufficiency, behavioural interventions and the systematic analysis of the environmental impact of information and communication technology (ICT), we are developing and comparing approaches to extending the service life of mobile devices as a contribution to resource efficiency in the ICT sector.

Aim

Working with partners, we are devising specific measures to extend the lifespan of mobile devices and thus reduce the environmental impact of the ICT sector. At least one of these strategies will be field-tested and evaluated. This can be a prototype of a commercial offer, for example, or an information campaign. We will test and apply our findings in a real-world setting.

Relevance

The project is a contribution to developing scientifically supported and feasible approaches to extending the lifespan of mobile devices. In addition to reducing the environmental impact of mobile devices, the project aims to contribute to the development of a better understanding of the complex relationships between the various stakeholders (consumers, companies, NGOs). This will open the door to effective promotion of more sustainable consumption patterns.

Original title

Lifesaving: A multi-perspective approach for extending the service life of mobile internet-enabled devices

Project leaders

Project leader

  • Dr. Yann Blumer, Institut für Innovation und Entrepreneurship, Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften ZHAW
  • Prof. Dr. Lorenz Hilty, Institut für Informatik, Universität Zürich
  • Matthias Stucki, Institut für Umwelt und Natürliche Ressourcen, Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften ZHAW

 

 

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 Contact

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Dr. Yann Blumer Institut für Innovation und Entrepreneurship, Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften ZHAW Stadthausstrasse 14 +41 58 934 46 86 yann.blumer@zhaw.ch