Edinburgh academics from the schools of Law and Design have secured £1.2m to go ‘Fixing the Future’.

The two-year research project, funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will explore the societal inequalities created by consumer technology that can’t be fixed, protected or safely thrown away. Focusing on the new ‘right to repair’, this project draws together experts in human computer interaction (HCI), design research, technology law, ethics, and digital humanities.

Dr Ewa Luger, Dr Susan Lechelt and Prof Melissa Terras from Edinburgh College of Art are Co-Investigators on the project, which is led by PI Dr Lachlan Urquhart in the school of Law.  They are joined by investigators from Lancaster (Dr Mike Stead , Dr Joseph Lindley , Prof Paul Coulton), Nottingham (Dr Neelima Sailaja , Prof Derek McAuley), and Edinburgh Napier (Dr Dimitrios Darzentas).

Ewa, who is Director of Research Innovation at ECA said:

“It is so important to create strong interdisciplinary cultures to address real world issues like the impact of technology obsolescence, particularly at a time when people are struggling financially and can’t always afford to replace devices when they fail.  We are delighted to be joining our colleagues here in the school of Law, at Nottingham, Lancaster and Napier, and with organisations like BBC R&D, Which? and the Canadian Government.  The coming 24 months are set to be genuinely exciting for ECA as we see this new collaborative programme of work develop.”

From August 2022 the project will:

  • Map the changing legal and ethical landscape, examining the role of the right to repair in supporting citizen needs.
  • Work with citizens to understand practical challenges of repairing devices and create an IoT Repair Shop installation with the Making Rooms Blackburn
  • Create guidance to support IoT manufacturers in changing their current practices;
  • Designs a toolkit to support development of more equitable futures when living with the Internet of Things (IoT)

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.


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