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Designing Energy-Sensitive Interactions

In this project we look into how design can support electric vehicle drivers in managing and understanding energy consumption

As technology is increasingly used in mobile settings, energy and battery management is becoming a part of everyday life. Many have experienced how quickly a battery can be depleted in a smartphone, laptop or electric car, sometimes causing much distress. An important question is how we can understand and work with energy as a factor in interaction design to enable better experiences for end-users.

Through design-oriented research, we work with the specific case of electric cars, which is currently a domain where people struggle in terms of energy management. The main issue in this use case is that current driving range estimates and regenerative braking cause distrust and anxiety among drivers. Through sketches, prototypes and studies, we investigate causes as well as possible remedies to this situation. One conclusion is that instead of providing black-boxed predictions, in-car interfaces should expose the logics of estimates so that drivers know how their own actions in e.g. driving style, climate control, and other equipment, affects energy use. Revealing such energy mechanisms will not only empower the driver, it will also acknowledge the impact of variables that cannot be predicted automatically.

In this work, understanding the dynamic aspects of energy has emerged as central to interaction with systems. This points to a need to design energy sensitive interactions - focusing on supporting users to find the right balance between energy use and the experiential values sought for. To ease design of energy sensitive interactions, energy use is divided into three different categories with accompanying ideals. These are exergy (always needed to achieve the required interaction), intergy (controllable and changing over time and use, needs to be addressed in design), and anergy (always waste that needs to be reduced). This articulation highlights aspects of energy that are specific to interaction design, and possible aspects to expose to allow more energy-efficient interactions in use.



StandUP for Energy

Project duration

2010 - present