Grid HCI Project

Project Proposal

Problem:  Home owners and small business owners don’t have an easy way to generate and read granular data about their power consumption, broken down to the outlet level.  Were this information available, it could be used to see trends in and make intelligent decisions about power usage.  Furthermore, a piece of software with access to this information could be used to generate power usage tips, bringing such things as lights left on at night and equipment that continuously draws energy to an individual’s attention.

Target Users:  Environmentally conscious or frugal homeowners or businesses.  It is assumed that the hardware required for this project will be relatively inexpensive, as too high initial costs will make the purchase difficult to rationalize from a returns perspective.    

Solution:  A web interface, connected to a sensor array collecting information from individual outlets.  This data is logged by the application and displayed to the user in a variety of hopefully helpful ways such as graphs, reports, and visualizations of power usage over time.  We want to provide, for example, a view that shows a crude ‘blueprint’ of a user’s house, with outlets demarcated in individual rooms.  Users will be able to use this view to bring up per room and per outlet statistics, or see a color-based visualization of power usage per outlet at the building level.  

We also want to provide a UI for a suggestion system, that parses the data collected by the application and provides intelligent feedback about where power usage might be reducible.  Given that the user will have to provide some information to get this process going (what can and can’t be turned off, hours of necessary operation for given outlets, etc.), designing this to be intuitive and not overly time intensive will be difficult.  

Roles and Tasks:

Nicolas Munaz:  Project Manager, Business Analyst, Designer

Louis Chin: Business Analyst, Designer, Software Tester

Will Jackson:  Business Analyst, Software Developer, Designer