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Sustainability, Behavior, & Design: Design of a Home Energy Management System for Samsung

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Author: Munckhof, R.C.J.
Mentor: Keyson, D.
Faculty:Industrial Design Engineering
Department:Design for Sustainability
Programme:Design for Interaction
Type:Master thesis
Keywords: home energy management system · energy widget
Rights: (c) 2011 Munckhof, R.C.J.


This graduation project is one of two from Delft University of Technology that were initiated with the User Experience (UX) Research division at Samsung Electronics. They address electricity consuming behav- ior of young professionals and the role that consumer electronics (CE) play in it. This project focuses on the design of eco- feedback technology, a technology based on providing feedback about an individu- al’s or group’s energy consuming actions with the goal of reducing their environ- mental impact.
A user-centered approach was taken to investigate the target group in the context of their homes, observing their household routines, their lifestyle, and their stance on electricity consumption.
Two main problems emerged from the data. First, the level of complexity of exist- ing feedback information exceeds the level of understanding from most users. And second, most exisitng eco-feedback inter- faces fail to meet the interaction standards that young professionals have gotten used to because of their smartphones and tab- let PC’s. These are smooth touchscreen interfaces that are often beautiful, engag- ing and pleasurable to use.
A set of design criteria for eco-feedback was constructed focussing on making elec- tricity consumption more graspable, and engaging users with an interesting, intui- tive and pleasurable interface.
These criteria were translated to the design of a Home Energy Widget (HEW), an Android application for Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. The HEW was tested with the target group using an interactive (Flash) prototype.
The results show that the HEW scored higher on both pragmatic and hedo- nic qualities than a comparable existing interface. The feedback on the design of the HEW showed the validity of the design criteria. Samsung can now use and develop these criteria in their future designs of eco-feedback technology.