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13 February 2014

From Interactive Energy Displays to Open Questions about HCI & Sustainability

Location: Meeting Room 10, 2nd Floor, JLB
Time: 12:30pm - 13:45pm
Speaker(s): Enrico Costanza - University of Southampton

In this talk I will present an overview of three ongoing projects about human-computer interaction around domestic energy consumption, developed in collaboration with several colleagues and students in Southampton and Nottingham. The first, FigureEnergy, is an interactive visualization aimed at helping users figure out how they consume energy at home. The other two, AgentSwitch and Agent B, explore opportunities and challenges of having future smart and autonomous systems helping users in dealing with energy, such as by automatically switching energy tariff, or by charging a battery when renewable energy is available. Designing, prototyping and studying interactions with energy systems can offer opportunities to address more general HCI challenges, such as the study of interaction with autonomous agents and uncertain information. At the same time, working on energy systems I noticed that it is often easy and tempting to reduce sustainability questions to a matter of consumers making the "right" and well informed choice. However, research from other disciplines such as public health and economics made me wonder: how far can we actually go by empowering consumers and turn them into smart consumers, rather than by addressing these issues in terms of policy making? Then, are there opportunities for HCI to play a role in policy making? I will pose these as unanswered questions in the hope to stimulate an open discussion.

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Contact: mailto:h.c.sharp@open.ac.uk