A sketched picture of James' head

James Smith

Building a better future out of code

Rewired State: A Social Energy Monitor

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The Rewired State Carbon & Energy hack weekend is coming up this weekend, and I've got a proposal for a hack I'd like to build (by kind permission of AMEE, my employer). I'm after a team to help, so if you're interested, please get in touch.

Energy monitors are useful, but lack a certain something to keep people coming back to them. The web excels at social and game mechanics, but is ‘out there', not present in the normal home environment. The idea is to bring the two together by building a system that takes realtime energy data from a home and displays similarly realtime social context for that data.

The end product is a simple display that shows not only current energy usage, but how that usage compares to other users of the system, in real time.

How it works: each home (probably just one in the initial hack, with the rest mocked up) has a CurrentCost meter. This, via a script or bridge device, submits 5-minute energy usage readings into AMEE, where it's stored and its carbon equivalent calculated. A website is then created to take that information from all registered devices and do some simple stats. It will calculate a realtime league table, position for each user, realtime average power usage, and so on. This, along with the user's own data, is then displayed on a screen in the home - I have an O2 Joggler touchscreen which would do the trick, either through a browser or via a native OpenPeak app.

The panel continuously shows the home user their energy usage, but also what their usage is compared to other users right now. It might display chart position, whether usage is going up or down, and other simple stats perhaps aggregated over time. This will bring some essential social context into the home energy monitoring space, and demonstrate the sort of innovation that can take place if smart metering systems are kept open.

Many parts of the system exist already, so I think this is buildable in a weekend at least as a prototype. Like I say, if you want to help me build it, get in touch in the comments or via Twitter (#rscarbon).


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