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O rly? A smiley face makes an impact with OPower.

“If something is inconvenient, even if we believe in it, moral suasion, financial incentives, don’t do much to move us — but social pressure, that’s powerful stuff.” – Alex Laskey For years Robert Cialdini, author of the must-read social psychology book Influence, has been studying the impact of social norms on behavior change and pro-environmental

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The Element: Shedding a light on energy consumption

In the paper “Visualizing Energy Consumption of Radiators,” authors Magnus Gyllensward, Anton Gustafsson, and Magnus Bang consider how to make the energy used in heating a home visible. They developed a radiator made entirely of light bulbs, which responds to temperature changes in a room using sensors. The main aim of the research was to

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EnergyLife: Three steps to household energy awareness.

In the paper “Eco-Feedback on the Go: Motivating Energy Awareness,” the authors present EnergyLife, a multifaceted too that shares information about household electricity consumption in a variety of fashions. In addition to providing seemingly straightforward information on energy use, EnergyLife also incorporates a gaming environment in order to reward the user as they achieve certain goals related to energy conservation. More than just

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The Nest thermostat learns what to do to keep you comfy. Hopefully it teaches you a thing or two in the process.

Energy savings could certainly use a little sex appeal. Enter the fine folks who helped develop the now ubiquitous iPod and iPhone – products that revolutionized the smart phone market and virtually insured that most North Americans carry a tiny computational device in their pocket or purse. It was only a matter of time before the

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eMeter: Mobile metering of household appliances

In the paper “Evaluating mobile phones as energy consumption feedback devices,” authors Markus Weiss, Claire-Michelle Loock, Thorsten Staake, Friedemann Mattern, and Elgar Fleisch, of ETH Zurich’s Institute for Pervasive Computing and Information Management departments consider the potential for a meaningful relationship between increasingly pervasive smart metering systems and and smart phones as a means to deliver quick, timely information to the user. Recognizing that

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On the EcoPath to sustainable actions.

In the technical report “EcoPath: Adding Spatial, Social, and Gaming Contexts to Personal Tracking Systems” by Joel Ross, Nadine Amsel, Robert Beckman, Bill Tomlinson, we are introduced to “EcoPath,” a mobile game developed to help people track the location of  activities which can be thought of as sustainable, such as biking and recycling. In some ways

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The Tree of Tenere: a tragic reminder to just behave.

In the paper “The Ténéré: Design for Supporting Energy Conservation Behaviors” researchers Ju-Whan Kim, Yun-Kyung Kim, and Tek-Jin Nam from the Department of Industrial Design at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), we are presented the Ténéré, a small screen that is built into an electric power extension cord, which is meant to “support people’s energy conservation behaviors.” The small

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Power Agent: Playing mission possible

Here is another eco-feedback tool developed by the fine folks of Sweden’s experimental Interactive Institute (the people behind the Power Aware Cord). In the paper  “Evaluation of a pervasive game for domestic energy engagement among teenagers,” authors Anton Gustafsson and Magnus Bång present a mobile phone game called Power Agent, which targets teenagers and their families. The game is designed to

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Tidy Street: The word on the street about energy use

I know what you’ve been thinking: isn’t it ironic that so many eco-feedback tools designed to decrease energy use, also consume energy? Well, not given the actual definition of the term “ironic,” but it is  interesting to note that our reliance on electricity in computer-based feedback leads to minor amounts of electricity being consumed in the pursuit of a

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“Save energy or the bear gets it”

Anyone who has spent anytime considering environmental messaging will have noticed that the polar bear frequently being used as a symbol of the impact of global warming on the animal kingdom. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that eco-feedback designers might be interested in leveraging the concern that many people seem to have for the iconic giant white bear

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