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Sustainable Solutions for Wearable Technologies: Mapping the Product Development Life Cycle

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Department of Culture and Learning, Aalborg University, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark
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Department of Computer Science, Aalborg University, 9220 Aalborg, Denmark
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8444; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208444
Received: 6 August 2020 / Revised: 21 September 2020 / Accepted: 9 October 2020 / Published: 14 October 2020
Wearable technologies involve the integration of technology into clothing or accessories to bring new functionalities for people on the move. Many examples of wearables are emerging, from simple fitness tracking watches to electronics deeply embedded into garments for multi-touch sensing and control for personal music players. Without careful development, wearables can have a negative impact on the environment due to increased production of electronic components, increased e-waste from abandoned devices, and increased energy usage. We examine environmental sustainability issues through a review of recent research and cases across three broad areas including the fashion industry, information and communications technology (ICT), and wearable technologies. In the analysis, we examine stages in the product life cycle and identify the unique issues for each sector, including the extraction of materials, production process, distribution of products, use, and disposal of products that have reached the end of their life. The findings are gathered as implications for design so that researchers, educators, designers, developers, and product managers will gain an overview of the issues related to environmental sustainability. Related examples of products and prototypes are provided to enable informed choices during the design and development of wearables that are more environmentally sustainable. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability; wearable technology; design; fashion; ICT; closed-loop design; design implications sustainability; wearable technology; design; fashion; ICT; closed-loop design; design implications
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Gurova, O.; Merritt, T.R.; Papachristos, E.; Vaajakari, J. Sustainable Solutions for Wearable Technologies: Mapping the Product Development Life Cycle. Sustainability 2020, 12, 8444.

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