The mobile application Energy Life provides awareness tips and consumption feedback via a mobile application for smart phones. This innovative application has been evaluated in two consecutive trials across Europe within the BeAware project, consisting of real life installations in Finland, Italy and Sweden.
The first trial was carried out during the four months between May and September 2010. The participants were 4 families in Italy and 4 families in Finland, a total of 11 and 13 people respectively. The families applied to the BeAware consortium to take part in the trial, following advertisements in local newspapers and on the internet, and a selection process was thereafter undertaken.
The application obtains data from a sensing system that was installed in the test families’ households.
A number of visits at the families’ houses have been achieved during the trial:
- The first visit included the submission of questionnaires on energy awareness and application training.
- The second visit proposed a satisfaction survey. Also, a number of usability tasks were performed and recorded on video.
- The third visit included all the elements of the second visit, plus an awareness questionnaire and a video recorded group interview.
The main results from the first trial has shown that the users found the application to be a real eye-opener : it has raised their level of awareness and entailed changes in their energy use habits.
This awareness was verified through data analysing, which indicated an actual decrease in energy use during the test period. However, new behavioural patterns have not been found to be linked with the the amount of interaction with the interface, but rather related to The changing behavior has rather seemed to be related to the feedback received on single specific behaviors, as the users had reduced their electricity consumption especially for the devices that are monitored by the application. The users’ interaction with the application decreased over time as well as the energy savings. This could probably be explained by some system bugs which undermined a full exploitation of the game experience.
During the evaluation, household members rated the usability of the application (i.e. navigation, general learnability and general consistency) as high. The evaluation also provided guidance to improve the prototype. Some of the weaknesses were the access to individual advice tips, undo functions, timeliness of system response to commands and specificity of advices. Also, users stated that some aspects of the game rationale could benefit from clarifications, such as saving calculation, difference between individual and household scores, time reference of consumption/saving calculation, meaning of “dimming” feature, of the category “other” devices and community functions.
Later on, a second trial was conducted, which also included families in Sweden. However, the results from this trial have not yet been published.
Tusa, G.,Timpanaro, S., and Cristaldi, M. (2010). BeAware project D6.2.