Project Description

21 Apr

Ambient Knowledge (AK)

Ambient Energy Information Display

AK is an Ambient Information System that provides the user with information regarding the energy consumption in his/her house. An Ambient Information System appeals to peripheral senses and aims at providing the user with information without demanding their attention or introducing any additional interaction. This will avoid bombarding them with information or distracting them from the task at hand and allow them to receive information and proceed with everyday life. AK allows a smooth transition between the users focus on the task at hand and the information being provided. The project aims to provide the user with aesthetically pleasing, enjoyable and convenient access to information.

The project uses colour as the modality to provide the user with ambient energy information. The scale goes from Green through Blue to Red depending on how much energy the house is consuming. Red is considered a high-arousal colour while blue, green and most violets are low-arousal colours. The properties of a certain colour can alter the psychological message, which can be more significant than the visual experience itself. Colour can affect the human body both physically as well as mentally. Red has been shown to draw attention, increase enthusiasm, stimulate energy and encourage action while Blue and Green have the opposite effect and can be calming and tranquil. Green is also seen as the colour of ecology and has many environmental associations. ( provide this colour to the user the project uses LED lighting. LEDs are sustainable, energy-efficient and environmentally responsible, containing no hazardous or toxic materials such as mercury. A single LED could last three to six years if left on for 24 hours a day.

According to Pike Research “consumer interest in energy consumption is higher than it has been for decades; home EIDs will enter people’s kitchens and living rooms in large numbers over the next few years”. By making people aware of their energy consumption it will motivate them to make behavior changes to cut their utility bills and environmental footprint. In most houses energy use is invisible to the user and people only have a vague idea of the amount of energy they are using and what appliances use the most energy. Feedback allows energy usage to become more visible and easier to understand and control. Ames et al. “hypothesize that information will empower residents to improve city health by making them feel like their actions are visible”. Since the 1970s it has been established that feedback has measurable effects and it is now believed that savings from immediate feedback can range from 5-15%. Feedback can be used as a learning tool allowing users to teach themselves through experimentation. (The effectiveness of feedback on energy consumption) (Healthy Cities Ambient Displays). Wilhit and Ling found that increased feedback leads to an increase in knowledge that in turn motivates changes in energy-use and a decrease in energy consumption.

The biggest problem with EIDs is motivating people to sustain their use after the initial novelty of the display wears off. Sustaining a change in behavior will depend on whether the feedback will support the development of new habits over a long period of time. This is where a well thought out energy monitoring device is needed. A new behavior formed over a three-month period or longer is only likely to persist, once continued feedback is maintained. This is why the properties of an Ambient Information System are suitable as an effective Energy Information Display. Continuous feedback can be provided through an easily accessible, convenient, glancable display. Providing the information in a pervasive, aesthetically pleasing, enjoyable manner reduces the burdens on the user therefore they don’t not get annoyed or distracted by the display and stop using it. (The effectiveness of feedback on energy consumption)


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