BeNatural (more info at www.benatural.gr ) is an idea of students of our department who worked in the HCI lab and developed a prototype that supports consumer decisions relating to environmental impact of products purchased.
(The students who developed BeNatural are : Fivi Rondiri, Epaminontas Rontogiannis, Adrian Stoica and Dimitrios Raptis, supervisor: Prof. N. Avouris)
(the beNatrual group at work)
The main concept and example of use of BeNatural
The objective of beNatural system is to give to consumers the motivation to be more active and informed towards issues concerning environment and sustainability, nutrition and health. In order to achieve this goal we created a website (www.benatural.gr) where the user/consumer can get and give information on the ingredients that are part of the products she buys.
In order for someone to become a beNatural member all that she has to do is to login to our site and voluntarily start providing information to our database about the ingredients of a product she bought. Through the help of many individuals we expect to provide a full scaled database over a period of time. We opted for this Wiki-based approach having in mind the Wikipedia example, which is a well known community produced information space evolving day-by-day, containing information of high quality, generated and checked by thousands of users. With the help of the site, we can assist each beNatural member when in the process of purchase decisions.
For this purpose, we created a mobile application that can be used almost anywhere (e.g. inside a supermarket). The user can ask the beNatural server about the characteristics of a certain product by providing its barcode. The system looks up the beNatural database and by consulting the lists of ingredients that belong to the user's profile, responds by advising on the purchase, according to environmental impact dimensions. Each user can create and edit her own profile which is constituted a) by the ingredients and products that she definitely and personally selects to avoid, b) by the lists with ingredients or products that are issued from respected organisms (i.e. EU Commission, WWF, Greenpeace) and she chooses to comply and c) by the standards, concerning the recycling of packages, she chooses to be informed.