Prospera

Playing with your home energy usage for energy awareness

About the project

Project timespan: 7 weeks

Client: Microsoft Design Expo

Prospera was created for the Microsoft Design Research Challenge 2013, on the theme of Big Data.

Prospera was exhibited at the ID’13 exhibition during the Dutch Design Week 2013 and was published in Eindhoven Designs volume 7.

Prospera is a team effort, with Bart Wolfs, Karin Niemantsverdriet and Thomas van de Werff, and is now further developed in collaboration with an industrial partner.

Concept

We all know the reasons why we should save energy: it’s better for the environment, it’s better for our energy bills… but in our daily lives it appears to be very difficult to stay conscious of our energy usage. Prospera was developed to show people the direct effects of their home energy usage by playing a casual game application.

In Prospera’s game environment, you can design your own planet. Make mountains, dig for water and plant vegetation to sculpt the landscape the way you like. Prospera translates your real-life home energy usage into the game to become the environmental conditions. Electricity becomes your day and night rhythm, whereas the planet's ocean level and temperature will depend on your water and gas usage. Compare yourself to your friends, family and comparable households all over the world to find out what your energy profile looks like.

Proof of principle

The concept of Prospera was tested in two different ways. First of all a simplified version of the game was made to test whether the game in itself is fun and engaging enough to keep people interested. Needs of self-expression (the freedom to create), surprise elements and the social aspects (playing together and comparing worlds) appeared to be very motivating for continuous gameplay.

Secondly, sensors were installed in peoples meter box, which were linked to a real time planet visualization on a screen, and were left there for a week. This test was meant to evaluate how providing direct feedback about their energy usage would affect people’s awareness and behaviour with their household appliances. Also here positive reactions could be seen: people started to play around with their electronic devices to see the in-game effects. They also actively reflected upon their usage, and in some cases this even led to behavioural change.