Friday, September 21, 2012

feedback: the next evolution in energy

in the afternoon during the CLICC Conference, Stina Wessman of the Interactive Institute of Sweden gave a very interesting presentation about feedback focused on sustainability.  though the entire presentation was in Swedish and the slides were rich with text (also in Swedish), I did manage to get the gist of some of what she was saying.  I also used this thing called "the google" to look up some of what she was talking about to learn more.
Stina Wessman, from the Interactive Institute of Sweden, talking about feedback and energy awareness at the CLICC Conference at Malmomassan in Hyllie
the Interactive Institute of Sweden is an experimental company that combines Information Technology, design, and research together and applies this learning and knowledge to a wide variety of fields and applications.  as usual, their website describes themselves better than I can:
Interactive Institute is a Swedish experimental IT & design research institute that conducts applied research and innovation through creative and participatory processes.
the Interactive Institute works ons lots of stuff, more than I can even get into in this post, so I will focus on what I gleaned from Stina's presentation and from reading a little on their website.  the Institute has a focus on sustainability (among other topics) and has engaged in many research projects and experiments about behavior and feedback, which ties in perfectly to the idea of CLICC, which is all about engaging city inhabitants on the issue of carbon footprint and helping people living in the city understand their own individual role(s) as a part of the citywide effort to become carbon neutral in the next 20 years.  yes.  I said it.  the city of Malmo would like to be carbon neutral in the next 20 years.  and the city is actively aiming toward that goal.

Stina talked about projects that are geared toward helping people see (and therefore better understand) their energy use and consumption.  she cited some very cool examples that are prototypes and/ or soon to be marketed and sold ideas that connect people and energy use.  much of what she talked about reminded me of the thinking and initiatives that were undertaken as part of the 2009 Solar Decathlon competition that I worked on through the BAC and Tufts.  our project, entitled curio, focused on sustainable living and awareness as much (if not more) than designing and constructing an 800 square foot zero energy house.

here are a couple that were neat.  there are many more on the website.

picture taken from Interactive Institute website
"The Power Aware Cord is designed to visualize the energy of the current use of electricity of the appliances connected with it through glowing pulses, flow, and intensity of light."  this picture is from the Interactive Institute website 
the Flower Lamp is another example of innovative thinking around energy use and visualization.  the lamp changes form and becomes dimmer/ brighter based on energy use.  the lamp is an attractive and interactive monitor of energy consumption that can, in turn, affect behavior.

the Element is an attempt to change energy from an unseen source to a visible source.  in this case the energy is heat, as evidenced in a radiator.  the experiment is to showcase the amount of heat being emitted from a radiator in a new form, light.  the light emission is directly matched to the heat emission, thus the brightness of the "radiator" tells you how hot it is.  from the flikr site:
It is usually hard to tell whether radiators are on or off except by laying a hand upon them.  This prototype is made out of glass, metal, and enough light bulbs to reach the same efficiency as an electric radiator, and the current energy level is visible at all times.
I will tell you about two more, but I recommend if you are interested to read up on the Interactive Institute.  they are doing some amazing work in the field of interaction, sustainability, and energy.

the Energy AWARE Clock is an electricity meter that resembles an ordinary kitchen clock.  it measures your energy consumption and tells you the time simultaneously while also allowing you to compare previous energy use to today's consumption, thus you become aware and notice improvements and changes in consumption.

lastly, BoEL is a chance to compare your energy use to your neighbors.  a web based interface and simple glowing orb in your window shows how much energy you are consuming.  red, green, and yellow are comparative measurements that allow each user as well as the neighbors to see how one unit performs.  this could lead to healthy competition, shared knowledge and team building, or even a little pang of guilt, all of which have been shown to affect behavior.  according to the website:
BoEL is an experimental social ambient interface and web service that presents daily consumption figures to home owners and neighbors to promote joint savings and foster competitive energy saving bahaviors.  The service includes an ambient lamp that provides feedback on the energy consumption in the household and these interfaces are installed so that the neighbors can observe each others energy status.
check out the Interactive Institute of Sweden's website for more cool strategies about using interaction and communication to affect behavior and sustainable living.

1 comment:

  1. Stephen, I am only a bit-way through your blog and I love it!! Since the beginning of my school year is settled in, I have more time to see what you are up to. You are a wonderful writer and explain things clearly and yet at a level even this fifth grade teacher can comprehend. Keep up the great work! Love you, Jenn