Along with fellow ITP graduates, I was a founding member of GroundedPower, a startup focused on energy efficiency. Over a three year period, we built a hardware and software system that combines real-time energy monitoring with an integrated suite of consumer engagement and behavioral tools. Unlike other companies working in this space, we concentrated not only on energy monitoring as a means to reduce consumption, but also on encouraging users to make behavioral changes. By providing simple, straightforward tools, we found that our consumers stayed engaged, motivated and empowered to effectively use and manage energy.
GroundedPower distinguished itself from the competition by developing a seamless user experience that integrated the software with the hardware. GroundedPower’s web interface made energy consumption visible and actionable. More importantly, GroundedPower’s intuitive Dashboard guided users toward creating goals, selecting and committing to energy savings tasks and habit changes; linking to utility efficiency and rebate programs; sharing experiences with others, and tracking their success and reward potential. The web interface was also a clear and effective way of communicating with peers and utility companies.
At the hardware level, we brought the same intuitive approach. We created residential and commercial displays to provide consumers with a quick way of assessing the status of their energy use. We also designed methods to communicate users’ status in achieving their savings goals, notifying them of pricing alerts, and messages from their utility companies.
I designed all the devices to act as ambient feedback displays, allowing users to easily assess their goal status, real-time energy consumption and alerts from utility companies.
We categorized the devices into 3 tiers of fidelity: The highest fidelity was conveyed by the In-House Display which contained a small LCD screen that presented content similar to that found on the web interface. The middle tier of fidelity, as exemplified by the Base Station and the Glance, offered a simplified LED bar graph of energy consumption, leveraging color as a means to communicate goal status. The lowest level of fidelity conveyed the simplest information— the goal status— by using a three-color stop light scheme.
The hardware form language that I developed took as its inspiration the complementary opposites of soft silhouettes and sharp edges. We wanted GroundedPower’s look and feel to be approachable and unintimidating, but still maintain a sense of precision and technological sophistication.
The Glance was designed as an alternative to the web interface, providing users with an ambient, non-screen based way to quickly assess their real-time energy consumption. The Glance also provided alerts and savings goal progress, demand response actions, time-of-use pricing status and efficiency contest status. The Glance used a multi-color bar graph display paired with a ring of status indicator lights. Based on illumination and color changes, users could at a glance instantly know how their energy usage was fluctuating, and whether they were on track to meet their savings goals.
I was instrumental in the Glance’s development from initial brainstorming, sketch ideation, 3D design and models, to building working prototypes. I developed the user experience, insisting on user testing, then guided it through FCC testing and manufacturing.
The Glance was one of the key features differentiating GroundedPower from its competitors.