Interface Design: ICE-WISH

Design of interfaces for increasing awareness of energy consumption among the social housing residents.

Challenges:  visualizing energy consumption in a relevant way, calculating and visualizing benchmarking information, creating an engaging factor for the interface, interaction through remote control
Tools:  user centric iterative design, Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, Visio
Deliverables:  scenarios, use cases and UML diagrams, wireframes, flow-charts, visual design elements for implementation (look & feel)

In this European subsidy project, my contribution was to come up with a concept for the interface of an energy saving TV-based application, specify all the interaction and provide visual elements for the interface to be implemented. The deliverables included documentation of the process, specification of the interface and interaction and graphical templates.

The overarching goal of the project was to explore possibilities to reduce energy consumption by social housing residents, by making them more aware of their consumption through easily accessible TV-based interfaces, smart metering technologies and sensors. An additional challenge of the project was to keep the installation low-cost, and the budget was assigned accordingly to impose this limitation early on. The project called for a wide scale evaluation of the developed concepts among 300 dwellings spread out in 9 European countries.

The method followed for this project was user centric and iterative. I started by surveying existing interfaces designed for monitoring of energy consumption, and taking notes of advantages and disadvantages that every one of these offered. Next, through brainstorming sessions and idea iterations, I came up with a list of possible functionalities that the interface and system should make available to the user. According to these, I wrote different scenarios, trying to envision how different users would use a system. From the scenarios, I was able to extract more specified requirements for the interface and interaction, and start working on use cases. In parallel, I also started working on creating sketches and wireframes of how the interface should look like and operate. The use-cases and wireframes were evaluated with the rest of the consortium, and after some adjustments, I designed an initial version of the interface. These were presented to representatives of end-user groups together with questionnaires in order to gather initial responses and validate that requirements fit. In general, the interface was found to be useful, but there were a number of valuable findings that helped make the interface more clear and easy to understand. Following this, the final design was completed and delivered to the consortium partner, who implemented the application.

As of 2011 the project was approaching the evaluation phase.

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