2-year £1.2m project ‘Fixing the Future: The Right to Repair and Equal-IoT’ funded by UK EPSRC.

The £1.2m 2-year ‘Fixing the Future’ research project has been funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It explores the societal inequalities created by poor sustainability, data protection, and cybersecurity in current consumer internet of things (IoT) devices. Planned obsolescence of IoT devices like smart speakers and watches is leading to environmental consequences from e-Waste, yet we need to understand how to create a more circular and equitable digital economy, underpinned by reuse and repair.

The project is led by Principal Investigator, Dr Lachlan Urquhart, together with a multidisciplinary team of investigators from across the Universities of Edinburgh (Dr Ewa Luger , Prof Melissa Terras , Dr Susan Lechelt) Lancaster (Dr Mike Stead , Dr Joseph Lindley , Prof Paul Coulton), Nottingham (Dr Neelima Sailaja , Prof Derek McAuley), and Napier (Dr Dimitrios Darzentas). The project draws together expertise in human computer interaction, design research, technology law, ethics, and digital humanities to investigate how to build more equitable IoT devices that enable inclusive participation in the digital economy.  This is achieved through an exciting programme of work over the next 24 months which:

  • Maps the changing legal and ethical landscape, particularly around shifting current IoT design practices and examining the role of the right to repair in supporting citizen needs.
  • Explores how to create the IoT Repair Shop installation with the Making Rooms Blackburn to understand issues faced by local citizens and to understand practical challenges of repairing IoT devices in the community.
  • Creates blueprint prototypes and user experiences that demonstrate how to design for repairability, to support IoT manufacturers to change current practices.
  • Designs a toolkit that will practically support development of more equitable futures when living with IoT by targeting needs of different citizen, government, and industry stakeholders.

The research agenda will be closely co-created with citizens and a series of international research partners, including The Making Rooms, Blackburn; BBC Research & Development; Which?; NCC Group; the Canadian Government; and climate data focused artist Rachel Jacobs. The project starts in August 2022 and for any further information please get in touch with