Tech allows consumers to set product lifecycle preferences

Burberry has collaborated with IBM to develop a prototype traceability system that allows consumers to tailor products to their sustainability preferences using an app.

The system – called Voyage – identifies a product using near-field communication tags or a product ID and then outlines it development history using cloud and blockchain technology. It will trial on Burberry’s mobile app. 

“Voyage was designed for users to configure their own sustainability preferences and receive tailored product recommendations,” said Burberry.

“Users might also add information about a product’s journey to include additional stages in its lifecycle such as recycling and upcycling. In this way, the system could show users the role their potential purchase would play in giving a product new life and helping to minimise waste.”

Burberry’s digital professionals partnered with interns at IBM to build Voyage.

Tara Mulcahy-Murray, an engineering student at the University of Oxford and IBM intern, said: “We thought about what consumers might want to know about their clothes and how we could address their concerns. Our aim was to give consumers more information about each product before it reaches the store, so they can make more informed purchasing decisions.”

The project came out of IBM’s Extreme Blue programme, where interns were asked to “design, develop, and test an innovative new product” under the theme of sustainability in fashion.

Eleanor Barron, physics student at the University of Exeter and IBM intern, said: “By developing the Voyage prototype alongside experts at Burberry and IBM, we learned so much about a complex industry.

“This experience opened our eyes to the scale of the fashion supply chain and we found first hand that sharing learnings and best practice does inspire action to improve sustainability.”

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