Field: Damage-reducing technique
Global Technical function: Collecting, Consumption measuring
Technical Function Unit: Identifying, Miniaturised and wireless sensing, On-line sensing
Geographic Area: Finland

Be Aware | Energy Life

Several research studies have strongly suggested that people are willing and capable of adapting their behaviour in an energy-saving direction if given the necessary feedback, support, and incentives. The project BeAware aims to foster and inspire the creation of new products and services turning householders into active players in energy and raising energy awareness. 

Through a multidisciplinary research approach, a number of solutions to motivate and empower citizens to become active energy consumers have been developed within the framework of the project. The aim is to develop services for conserving electricity within households, with the goal of reducing the domestic power consumption by 15% via a number of damage-reducing techniques. The project has been partially funded by the European Commission under the 7th framework programme (FP7), a grant funding programme,  and will come to an end during 2012.

One of the main technical achievements from the project is the prototype of a mobile and ambient application called Energy Life. Designed as a game-inspired mobile application for smart phones, it provides knowledge and feedback to raise awareness on energy conservation and to help users to embrace a sustainable energy conservation lifestyle. It makes the users aware of their energy consumption and gives information regarding the electricity consumed by the whole household and certain appliances at different times during the day. Through the smartphone application, users are not only receiving continuous updates on consumption data, but also quizzes, tips, historical data and a social community, creating a game-like design with multiple levels. By fulfilling certain criteria and collecting scores through reading tips, quizzes and achieving actual electricity savings, the user will be taken to higher levels in the game.

Individual data is continuously fed into the application, derived from a sensor system for electric consumption measuring placed in the household. The system includes a prototype for an
innovative sensing platform for next-to-real time analysis (1-3 min) of consumption, developed within the project and consisting of miniaturised and wireless sensing devices and a base station. The sensors are placed in the same plug as the appliance, measuring the consumption. Through the base station, the data is sent wirelessly to a cloud service (web energy services), communicating with the smart phones. The web energy services transforms raw data into information and applies the game function, sending it out to the users along with tips and quizzes. Within the project, a first set of web services was developed to connect the sensors to the application layer, resulting in an on-line sensing solution that integrates the applications to web energy services.

The mobile application is complemented by several ambient interfaces to provide a more abstract but constant representations of the data, there among the Light Ambient Interface (LAIT) system and the Watt-Lite Twist.  Work within the project has been based on a user research approach, combining qualitative and quantitative field studies and trials. For instance, the application has been evaluated in two consecutive trials across Europe, consisting of real life installations in Finland, Italy and Sweden. Thus, the technology readiness level is estimated to be 9 on the
TRL scale. The results from the trials showed promising conservation of energy and acceptance by users while identifying several usability improvements.