What if the objects you own could share their entire history with you?
Built by — FIELD.SYSTEMS
FIELD.SYSTEMS is a creative studio in London and Berlin. As artists, designers and consultants, they explore the aesthetics of the near future and how technology changes the way we live our lives – working with code and data, moving image and interaction, sculptural and spatial experiences.
Chain of Traceability would combine blockchain technology with augmented reality (AR) to create digital twins of everyday objects – letting you visualise product knowledge in an entirely new dimension. By registering a household object on the blockchain, details about its production journey, components, materials and carbon footprint could be securely stored and shared. Using AR to illustrate this data, the experiment would go beyond the surface of the everyday objects around you and look deeper into their broader story, helping you make more informed choices when buying, selling, or discarding.
'What if we could use AR to see where an object comes from, what it's made of, and how we can repurpose it once its primary use wears out.'
Chain of Traceability would first use neural networks to visually identify objects before locating them on the blockchain. It would access the material, supply chain and fabrication information stored there – knowledge extracted from existing data sources. This information would then be easily accessible in AR through a playful, interactive timeline of an object's lifespan that allows you to scroll through an object's entire history. It would provide detailed breakdowns of the environmental impact of both individual objects, the components they are made of, as well as the journey each element has taken to get to where it is.
Object detection testing.
Sketch of visualiser for material composition .
Exploration of material and production blockchain signature.
Knowing what an object is made of can not only inform us about its past but also help decide its future. Prematurely discarding an object contributes a large (but hidden) proportion of its carbon footprint, so understanding an item's carbon cost per year could encourage more conscious decisions about throwing it away. Rather than replace objects, you might be persuaded to explore how they could be repurposed, restyled or reused, helping imagine new ways of contributing to a more circular economy.
'Often, the smallest component of a product has the largest environmental impact because of unexpectedly complex production processes, material sourcing or shipping journeys.'
Chain of Traceability would provide insight that could be valuable not only to individuals but to businesses too. The accessibility to data that spatial computing affords could invite a dialogue between companies and consumers to create real transparency around the production of everyday objects.
Not only individuals but businesses could benefit from the insight Chain of Traceability would provide. To build trust with consumers, companies need to be transparent about their methods. Accessible data could help companies manage supply chains more efficiently or review efficiency, refining production processes to align with consumer values.
'This is a radically different way of looking at data stories which can highlight achievements, areas to improve, and urge consumers to consider the afterlife of their purchase.'