Living in developed countries with superior infrastructures and seemingly unlimited access to the ubiquitous things, we tend to forget: resources are not infinite and need to be taken care of. Current smart home solutions for regulating and optimising consumption give little to no information to the user on their behaviour and routine.Although every device at home is a data touchpoint, hardly any of this is reflected in our living space, where we most need it.
smART is a dynamic data visualisation in the form of an art piece which takes consumption data out of the digital world and brings it out into the physical space of a home to better inform the user. It also motivates homeowners to consume resources in a more environmentally conscious way.
smART receives real-time data on water and heating consumption through colour-coded sensors around the house.The sensors - red and blue representing heating and water respectively - synch with the coloured layers of the art piece allowing smART todynamically change its appearance through data based on the homeowner's consumption. An excessive use of heating (red layer) and water (blue layer) leads the colour of the art piece to fade out. With this change the art piece looses contrast. A more conscious use of resources in line with sustainability guidelines on the other hand, helps maintain the art piece in its original form.As such, smART becomes a solution for people to track and reward themselves for their sustainable consumption behaviour.
Almost all current solutions for energy consumption tracking rely heavily on digital screens that display numbers, graphs and alerts. All of these things are hard to form an emotional relationship with - deemed extremely important when trying to motivate users to change their daily behaviour.In a similar vein, the same solutions often give a complex overview to the user - feedback that is hard to interpret and hard to relate to. Psychologically-speaking, people are not necessarily motivated by numbers in the long-term.Moving objects on the other hand are fascinating to people because we ascribe life to them and want to take care of them. We believe that data presented in a tangible and aesthetically pleasing way appears to the user to be more effective by virtue of its sensual appeal. This is due to the affinity the user feels for the object - i.e., formation of an emotional connection with the object. As such, smART has huge potential tocreate intrinsic motivation to change one's behaviour.
In 500 or less words please describe the Overview/Summary of your project...
Today, 54% of the world's population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66% by 2050. That means people living in urban areas are going to need more housing and those houses will need to consume more natural resources. Currently, 40% of CO2 emissions come from heating, cooling and powering buildings - causing more and more air pollution and health problems as a result. We see this problem as a huge opportunity to make urban homes more sustainable in their use of natural resources so that we can live healthier lives.
When people talk about the future vision of homes, they talk about smart homes and not necessarily about sustainable homes or sustainable smart homes for that matter. Both technologists and homeowners alike have this sci-fi understanding of connected objects simplifying your life - curtains opening at the swing of a hand, lights turning on and off at the snap of your fingers, devices tapping into your calendar to coordinate your arrival, and even smart objects feeding your pets when you can't make it back on time.
The question is: what kind of a relationship do we want to have with technology in the context of smart homes? How can we design connected objects at home in the most meaningful and desirable way to support sustainable living.
smART takes this data out of the digital world and brings it into our homes to better inform and motivate us. It is not just a delightful and dynamic art installation, but also a companion which responds to our behaviour in real-time. It captures our attention by changing its appearance - a gentle reminder that nature is constantly being influenced by our behaviour.
smART delights us by communicating complex data in a simple, understandable and non-intrusive fashion, allowing us to evaluate our consumption ourselves. A simple colour code mirrors our behaviour and makes us the student, artist and influencer of the installation all at the same time. The unambiguous communication allows us to think and reflect on our behaviour and makes us smile when we get rewarded for good actions.
Current solutions for tracking personal data rely heavily on numbers, graphs and alerts. All of these things are hard to form an emotional relationship with. Moving objects on the other hand are fascinating to people because we ascribe life to them and want to take care of them. Data presented in a tangible and easily understandable way creates intrinsic motivation to change one's behaviour.
Our homes and the objects in them tell our unique stories - the collection of objects we have in it are carefully chosen and they are part of our daily routine. smART fits into this story and becomes an object of daily routine. Making the homeowner understand their own actions and the impact it has on nature is the first step to improvement and therefore a meaningful change in the way data is being communicated.
People don't realise how smart their homes are already. Technology is everywhere and collecting our data constantly - how much energy we use, how long our showers take and how much coffee we drink. Our consumption data is not just on our bills but can also be viewed on different interfaces. Most suppliers provide us with apps to track our usage and consumption of resources. We also provide data with every step we take and create profiles based on our behaviour. In fact, all the companies we interact with have already profiled us. We are the only ones not doing anything with our data.
Based on these insights, we wanted to use connected objects at home to take our data back and use it to reflect our consumption of natural resources like water and heating.
Raising awareness and increasing understanding around consumption are necessary for living a more sustainable life. We found that data visualisations of consumption using numbers and graphs do not motivate people in the long-term. Although people like to track their consumption of things, they find it difficult to stay engaged. We wanted to take data visualisation out of the phone and bring it into the tangible world in a beautiful way. Numbers are hard to form an emotional relationship with, however, things that move are really fascinating because we ascribe life to them and we can more easily be motivated by them.
In cooperation with ArtRebels and IKEA we developed smART - a dynamic art-based solution for people to track and reward themselves for their sustainable consumption behaviour. The idea is that you maintain sustainable living at home by maintaining your art piece. The art piece receives real-time information from water and heating sensors around your home and adjusts its appearance based on your consumption. The blue and red colored layers representing water and heating fade out and turn into white when the user exceeds sustainability guidelines for consumption, leading the art piece to lose contrast.
We see a great opportunity to allow people to evaluate their own data and learn from it to take responsibility for our common environment. Making homeowners aware of their actions and the effect on their environment is the first step to improvement.
People are delighted by smART - it is a non-intrusive way of presenting your consumption data. It is a gentle reminder, a subtle nudge in the right direction without pushing numbers or data on to you in an overwhelming way. It is easy to interpret and delightful to live with. We saw that it gradually became a living part of the home and people strived to take care of it like it's a plant or a pet - trying to preserve it in the best way possible.
smART is the result of an iterative design process. We held interviews with several smart home technologists and young homeowners on their future vision of homes and technology. We got users to create cognitive maps of their living and working spaces. We gave them future scenarios and asked them to imagine life under different limiting circumstances. Afterwards we brainstormed on possible solutions and started experimenting with different materials right away. We were inspired by tangible data visualisations but still found them data heavy and hard to interpret. That's why we wanted to use a simple layer that leaves little room for interpretation and still looks engaging enough to pull you in.
We decided on using colour coding which is simple enough to be interpreted by all members of a family - young or old - and delightful enough to become a conversation starter between you and your guests.
We envision that the home will be a place where people will try to be less wasteful as the world's natural resources become more strained. We will need more non-intrusive solutions for presenting big data in an understandable way without creating more cognitive load.
Using information technology to collect data and turning it into art. That is one avenue of exploration I think we will see more in the future.