SusLab Home Energy Hackday + Knudgic

SusLabNWE offers an international facility for testing and developing new concepts to reduce energy consumption in the home environment. ‘Living Labs’, user feedback and a common Sensor Network are central elements of the SusLab infrastructure.

This hackday, ably coordinated by @danlockton and Flora, was intended to bring new thinking into the project.  Attendees were @RCAeducation students, alumni/ae and sundry folks from London IoT.  The idea of a 1-day hack was unfamiliar to me but it worked well in a number of ways.  Obviously not many hacks could be physically built and demonstrated in that time.

Our team titled itself “Normative Nudging”, the idea being to deliver energy-saving nudges that would be personalised and therefore more acceptable than the usual straight comparisons that ignore peoples’ circumstances.  Team members were @SophieEMWalker, Will A-M, Jesse H, @aideen_mcc and myself.

The solution looked like this:


The idea was to use off-the-shelf whole-house energy monitors (until smart meters rolled out). Shame about gas but we have ways of doing that if nececessary.

The “Knudgic device” was conceived as a fridge magnet with a small graphic display, wirelessly connected to a home hub/ router.  This would be challenging to design so that it was thin and low-power.  The idea of a small e-ink display should be investigated.

Screen shot 2013-11-12 at 12.06.56

We did a small presentation on normative nudging to explain the concept to the others present.

One of these days we should actually build one of these.

In conclusion, if you bring people together with no prep they can certainly come up with some nice concepts.  (Several other good ideas also emerged from the day.) To be able to hack something like this together (as a working prototype) could be done by a small team in two days but only if the idea was in place beforehand.

Finally, thanks to the organisers. Food, drink and facilitation was excellent once things got started. You are forgiven for lack of coffee at 8:30am 😉

Post-script: Initially, I admit to a little scepticism about small e-ink displays.  However, I subsequently got hold of one (from Embedded Artists) that would be suitable.  It’s rectangular of course.  It can display 264 x 176 px.  It could be used with almost any micro-controller. For this app I would pair it something like a Jeenode or equivalent that includes a radio receiver.

e-ink display


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