Watt Watchers is a network of collars for light bulbs that collectively dim to encourage better consumption habits. Using lights as a proxy for household energy use, the system reminds users when they are consuming above average power by mimicking a brownout.
We all increasingly feel the need to reduce our own energy consumption, but most of us still fail to act upon this. A wealth of consumption data does not effect a change, and devices that automatically shut off without user input address the symptom, not the problem. The need for a monitoring system that provides the necessary data and motivates people to begin changing their consumption behavior is apparent. How can a user be made conscious of his consumption habits in order to change his overall behavior more effectively?
All the light bulbs in a house have special collars that find each other via a mesh network and say whether theyâ€™re on or off. Then they all decide based on how many of them are on whether to dim to remind the occupant that too many things might be on.
Watt Watchers gets you energy-fit in three phases:
Listening - observing your habits
Coaching - "brown out" to remind you to leave fewer rooms on
Maintenance - when youâ€™ve improve'd enough, toggle a lightswitch to stop
coaching and watch you to make sure you don't slip
How it works
Watt Watchers uses the language of the brown-out to train motivated consumers to be aware of their consumption behaviors. A lightbulb acts as a proxy for all the devices in the room, and when all the lights in the house dim, the user knows to not only turn off the light in an unused room, but also the idle TV, heater, iron, and faucet.
Operation is simple; output consists of the lights dimming, and input consists of turning lights on and off, and toggling a switch a few times to switch from coaching mode to maintenance.
The Watt Watchers collar fits between a light bulb and its socket in order to measure when the light is on, dim it, and draw power for itself. But the system is the product; the collar is just a package for it. In the quantities achieved by distribution through energy companies, the cost would plummet. The electronics in a collar could be built into long-lasting CF or LED lights, or into lamps and fixtures. The marginal cost when building a house would be insignificant. The ZigBee network also makes extensions easy, so that another device could tap into the network and, say, record and visualize consumption data on a computer.