Share Your Power

With pervasive displays making their way into residential environments, there are new experimental opportunities emerging for designing public displays as an interface between residents and the street. 

The project investigated the effect of public real-time visualisation of domestic electricity in a local neighbourhood on energy conservation practices. A prototype was developed and deployed at two Sydney-based households, using a mechanical display system, known as flip-dot technology. Each display consists of a matrix of physical discs that are controlled electro-mechanically to either show a white or black dot. 

The technology is highly energy-efficient as it only draws electricity for changing the content of the display. A further advantage over light-based display technologies is that flip-dot displays are visible even in bright daylight. A custom-built tablet web application allowed controlling the flip-dot displays from inside the house.

The system was evaluated through a 20-day field study. We found that the aesthetic quality, playful character, unusual ratio and the handcrafted quality of the casing that concealed any indication of technological complexity led to at least some acceptance of the display being part of the residential environment. It further led to conversations between residents and neighbours and visiting friends about the topic of energy usage and conservation.