Sustainable design and circular design are terms which receive broad attention. But how can we, as designer tackle the lack of environmental awareness? Shall we trust in the development of enviroment friendly products and technologies or is it time to promote awareness creation, information and sensitisation? This question was a crucial part of this project.
Impulse is a monitoring system for ressource use in private or public space. In contrast to conventional smart home devices Impulse adresses focus on behaviour change of the user. The aim is to visualize and communicate the consumption of water, electricity or other ressources in a comprehensible manner. Most traditional smart home devices often create a comfort zone around the user whereas Impulse motivates and stimulates for a more attentive consumption in everyday life.
During this project, it was examined whether it is possible to achieve a lasting behavior change through information and motivation to help the environment and your surrounding. Behind this project is the conviction that the linking of these parameters is necessary in order to stimulate a change in behaviour. Knowledge about a particular state must involve a precise action. The wall, which must be defeated, is the motivation.
While researching we realized that people already have good knowledge about the environment. They mostly know what behaviour is rather bad or good, but often the most important part is missing: The Motivation to care and act. We studied intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, at gamification including reward aspects and different motivation models (e.g. Maslow pyramid) to understand the issue.
After we realised that Motivation is the key to gain real behavior change we focused on the outcome of this project. We looked into the water usage of family homes and recognized that there was one major insight: people don't really know how much water they are actually using, when they take showers, use the tap or cook. That was the point where we started Impulse, a product, wich indicates your water behavior through color in real time. To add more value, we gave the cube a second inforamtation layer with additional informations about your water usage. To enter this second layer you need to pick up the cube and it will display further information on its sides as shown below.
In order to save water the user needs to understand his own usage. Therefore it has to be presented in a visual manner and should arouse interest for the topic. Not the technology, but the translation from measured values into a comprehensive visualization was a key factor.
The product gives feedback about ressource consumption in the easiest way. Additionally it's aesthetically pleasing and is designed to integrate itself seamlessly into the living space. It only comes to the front as soon as it is necessary to convey feedback or information.
The device’s technology should not be visible. Technology can work deterrent on humans and distract from the actual intention. The product design is sharply reduced and works without a conventional screen. Tangible events are intuitive and “human”.
lectured by Prof. Jörg Beck
3rd Semester — Winter 2016/17
HfG Schwaebisch Gmuend