On Disused Connected Devices: Understanding Disuse, ‘Holding On’ and Barriers to Circularity

Susan Lechelt, Katerina Gorkovenko, Chris Speed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In this paper, we explore the complex phenomena behind why people ‘hold on’ to disused connected devices, focusing especially on differences between ‘traditional’ smartphones and computers, and newer categories of smart home devices, wearables and single-function Internet of Things (IoT) devices. We investigate why and in what contexts different categories of connected devices become disused by their owners; what owners value about their disused devices; and what they perceive to be the barriers to adopting circular practices, for example by fixing, recycling or reusing them. Our contribution is to provide a descriptive account of how functional, sentimental and other values associated with devices shape owners’ perceptions and attitudes toward their ‘end of life’, for an expanded range of connected products. By highlighting how perceptions of concepts including convenience, ownership and wastefulness mediate how owners approach the ‘end of life’ of a device, we map the barriers for device owners to engage in more circular practices and highlight opportunities to address them through design. Our study replicates previous findings in the domain, as well as extending them, contributing how the design of modern IoT devices leads to new barriers, opportunities, and considerations for more circular design.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
JournalACM Journal on Computing and Sustainable Societies
Early online date11 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Mar 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sustainability
  • circular economy
  • Internet of Things
  • IoT
  • sustainable HCI
  • sustainable interaction design
  • planned obsolescence
  • E-waste


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