The Senseable City Lab at MIT has developed a project to measure the life of small everyday objects after use. The path that many take is surprising, with long journeys, illogical routes and different stages. We are well aware of the value chain in the production of things, but how hidden is the value/disvalue chain when we throw them away and, as if by magic, they disappear. And yet, even if we don’t see them, they have a curious life beyond our sight.

The research project, called Trash Track, uses georeferenced data visualization techniques to a series of objects that are implanted with tracking devices and that allow them to follow their journey throughout the United States:
Elaborated by the SENSEable City Lab and inspired by the NYC Green Initiative, TrashTrack focuses on how pervasive technologies can expose the challenges of waste management and sustainability. Can these same pervasive technologies make 100% recycling a reality?
TrashTrack uses hundreds of small, smart, location aware tags: a first step towards the deployment of smart-dust – networks of tiny locatable and addressable microeletromechanical systems. These tags are attached to different types of trash so that these items can be followed through the city’s waste management system, revealing the final journey of our everyday objects in a series of real time visualizations.