Smart energy management in self-sufficient smart homes
Tasks: Concept development, information and feature architecture, coding, physical computing, co-design
WATTIME is my master thesis in interface design at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam supervised by Prof. Boris Müller and Prof. Constanze Langer. It is a software and user interface concept for the management of electric energy in connected homes that produce their own electricity from renewable sources. My research showed that these homes are using giant batteries to compensate the variation in the availability of renewable energy. For example these batteries store energy during the day when the sun is shining onto a solar collector. At night when the sun is down this energy can be used to power the devices at home.
I found this concept quite interesting because it causes a situation which is completely new: If someone starts using the battery all electric devices share a finite amount of stored energy and they influence each others runtime. From this scenario I derived several interesting questions: How does it feel to have electric power in finite amounts? How can people estimate their energy consumption when they use many devices with different consumption characteristics? How do they ensure that they have enough power for their everyday activities and spontaneous usage?
WATTIME is the result of a widespread design process. In short WATTIME collects consumption data from all devices inside the connected home. It sets off this data against the energy production from renewable sources and the amount of stored energy inside the battery. The interface is a sort of timetable where users can design usage scenarios. The main unit inside the interface is time. Users define runtimes for their devices and WATTIME predicts if there will be enough energy. If not users will see, how much they will have to reduce the runtime of the devices to make the usage scenario work.
WATTIME's biggest benefit is that the estimation of energy consumption is not longer a fuzzy undertaking. If someone has to reduce his consumption WATTIME tells him exactly what to do so he has not to resign for reasons of precaution. Besides WATTIME always tells the user from where the energy comes from that is being used at a given moment.