Fortunately, I am an example of my user group:

– student/young professional

– flatting

I also live with seven others in this user group and in the ‘fairly splitting the bills dilemma’ so I was able to test my interface with my user group continuously as I was working on it.  Some changes that they recommended were:

– Colour changes

– To remove the appliance name and just have the time and cost as they icon was clear enough

– To re-design the hourglass so it doesn’t look so flat

– To create a square around either ‘Day’, ‘Week’ or ‘Month’ so it was obvious what page you were on

– At first I did not have the overall cost on the individual name pages, but after communicating with my flatmates there was a general consensous that although they liked the icons and they were helpful, at the end of the day they wanted to know how much they were spending on utilities and that this information should not be hard to find.

– They enjoyed the drip animation, and the surprise element of the hourglass turning – an interesting interaction.

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Research:


Development:

 

Research:

Development:


http://www.consumer.org.nz/reports/appliance-running-costs

From the above figures and a diary i kept for a week on my own personal power usage I developed different figures to use in my interface.

Digital technologies have given rise to a new generation of students, consumers, and citizens who see the world in a different way. – http://www.economist.com/node/15582279

Gen Y is very much an experience culture, so your website may need to address this with ‘experiential marketing’ techniques (basically appealing to the senses in a way that is personally relevant). – http://www.webmatters.co.nz/2008/10/reaching-gen-y-online/

Many university students live in flatting arrangements in which students share an apartment or house (flat) and share household expenses. – http://www.aut.ac.nz/study-at-aut/international-students/accommodation/other-accommodation-options/flatting

Weekly average cost of general bills is $38. – http://www.students.org.nz/index.php?page=livingallowances

A flat’s main predicament (generally) is bills. Young adults, aged 18-30, who are flatting commonly split the bill equally. In an ideal world, this would mean that the flatmates used equal amounts of energy, but as flatmates are not held accountable for their personal usage this is not the case.

I plan to design an interactive application where power outlets are controlled and turned on through thumbprints. These thumbprints record how long the outlet was kept on for, how much energy was used and how much this energy cost. Through algorithms these recordings will then be displayed on an LCD so flatmates can compare and monitor who uses what. That way at the end of the month the bills can be split fairly.

This LCD will be visually appealing to a wide range of users as they can download applications and change how the information is represented. I plan to create a competitive aspect to the LCD so it becomes a form of entertainment to compete against other flatmates to keep their personal energy usage low.

By targeting a younger user group I believe that by changing the way they think about energy now will stay with them as they mature.

How the interactive application will work:

  1. Each user’s thumbprint will be loaded into the system through a live scan on the LCD screen. Personal names can then be added to each thumbprint. The relative amount of columns to each person will appear on the LCD screen.
  2. In order to turn a power outlet on the switch will be a thumbprint pad and will match algorithms to the previously stored thumbprints.
  3. The system will then record how long the outlet was kept on, how much power was used and how much the used units cost.
  4. This information will then be displayed on the LCD screen under the individual’s name. They can then see the total units used, as well as the total cost for the month. It will also display the weekly and daily averages.
  5. Through a visual display, the users will be able to quickly glance at a graph (or other picture form) to see who is using the least electricity.
  6. The users will also be able to download a variety of applications to change how the visuals are displayed. This is to make it relative to each flat. For example:  Athletic users could download a sport’s theme.
  7. The last box will display the total amount of units and total price for the whole flat.