Workshop with BERG, Spring 2011. In collaboration with Chris Cannon and JoJo Glick.

Challenge

Redesign the thermostat.

Approach

As a group, we explored ways to interpret a thermostat and its effect on users. We decided that we wanted the users to be more cognizant of the thermostat, along with his or her general usage, as a way to encourage mindful and positive behavior. Analogs like physical scales or the feedback from a living entity served as initial inspiration for our thermostat.

We eventually narrowed our ideas down to two concepts: 1) An emotion manifested as a projection onto an object or the user’s surrounding to serve as feedback (a kind of ever present emoticon); 2) or a physical and minimal object that uses marbles to increase or decrease temperature. We went with the latter and created a communal thermostat.

With our thermostat, users were provided with a set number of red and blue marbles. Red meant an increase in temperature, while blue represented a decrease. Users could insert the marbles to balance the temperature. Overusing the marbles would mean that the users would run out and have no remaining control over the temperature. Underusing meant that the users would have a surplus of marbles. If a user ran out of marbles, they would have to enlist the help and generosity of their neighbors who could opt to donate a marble or two. The idea was that the users had to collectively maintain the balance of the system in a physical and proactive way.

    Ideating on thermostat concepts

    Ideating on thermostat concepts

    Schematic of our final approach... a communal thermostat balance?

    Schematic of our final approach... a communal thermostat balance?

    Defining the specs and features

    Defining the specs and features

    Storyboarding the communal thermostat experience

    Storyboarding the communal thermostat experience

    A networked building key to the communal thermostat

    A networked building key to the communal thermostat

    Final iteration with user asking for help! No more marbles :(

    Final iteration with user asking for help! No more marbles :(

    But of course, a friendly neighbor responds to the SOS and donates a few marbles.

    But of course, a friendly neighbor responds to the SOS and donates a few marbles.

    And back to being a happy networked building.

    And back to being a happy networked building.