Founded By: European Union – FP7-ICT – ICT-2007.6.3

Start date: 1 May 2008          End date: 30 Apr. 2011

Grant: € 3.965.802

Partners: Helsinki University of Technology, Human Technology Lab (HTlab; University of Padova), BaseN Corporation, Power of the Interactive Institute, Vattenfall, Engineering Ingegneria Informatica, Intelligence for Environment & Security IES solution Srl,

HTlab Involved People: Luciano Gamberini, Anna Spagnolli

BeAware (Boosting Energy Awareness With Adaptive Real-time Envirorments) aims at contributing to the reduction of energy consumption, a societal challenge of first order that requires the combination of technical, economical, and social means. So far, energy conservation has focused on new often proprietary technologies and automation, treating users as passive consumers. However, strong evidences suggest that users can actively adapt their behaviour at the aim of saving energy whenever suitable feedback, support, and incentives are available. This positive behaviours would reduce energy consumption significantly and cost-effectively without impacting their life comforts.

At present, information about practices for energy consumption and conservation is aggregated and hidden, because of a lack of incentives and proper service models by the market. This opaqueness discourages users to learn and apply conservation strategies in their everyday lives. However, novel ICTs offer opportunities for widening this bottleneck. In particular, ubiquitous interfaces and web services, combined with low-cost sensors, can support real-time information about energy networks and consumption, empowering users to learn and share conservation strategies.

BeAware promotes an active and aware consumer, who becomes motivated to consume energy efficiently once faced his/her own consumption and energy profile usage. This vision is feasible thanks to a set of enabling ICT technologies, which are expected to become increasingly affordable in the coming years.

BeAware is the first initiative that aims at providing Ubiquitous Adaptive Natural Interfaces for power consumers based on capillary information of a wireless sensor network. Two main research questions are particularly addressed in this area. The first question is how to design interfaces and touch points for active user. In this case the problem is due to the user’ group that is heterogeneous and ranges from young people to the elderly. This means that several interfaces approaches are needed to appeal different user groups. The second challenge is to design interfaces informative at first glance and to create an awareness of personal energy consumption in an obtrusive way. Moreover, recent researches in the area of energy have indicated that communication should be personalised to maximise users’ willingness to change their consumption patterns.

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