As part of the GreenSoul pilot, researchers at Deusto University have developed a coaster and smart plug to track energy efficiency. We spoke to Diego Casado Mansilla, Research Associate at the Deusto University, on the thinking that went behind developing the technology.

What was the inspiration behind the GreenSoul coaster and smart plug?
Coaster: We wanted to create an object targeted specifically for the workplace environment. So, it had to be something that could fit perfectly in an office desk without disturbing employees (users). We wanted to create something meaningful to bring awareness about energy consumption whilst being something useful for other purposes at the same time (e.g. a lamp, a pencil-holder, a USB Hub, etc.). After some sketching and brainstorming we decided to create a coaster. Finally, we wanted to provide an object visually and aesthetically appealing, while at the same time sustainable by nature.
Smart Plug: We wanted to create a power strip which is not easily available in the market currently. We needed to measure the energy consumption of each of the outlets of a power strip (to understand the breakdown of the whole consumption). We needed that to be able to understand which are the appliances behind each energy load (curve). This smart plug will be able to capture, curate and propagate the data sensed by each of the power meters.

Are the coasters being used in any of the pilots currently?
They are all deployed in the pre-pilot of the project which is the University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain), as well as in Pilea (Greece). Testing is currently going on in WEIZ and ALLIA.

What do you hope to achieve from the GreenSoul pilot?
Firstly, to shed light on understanding which is the more effective channel to convey persuasive messages that help people in their decision-making about energy consumption. We are going to test 4 channels/scenarios: Coaster (physical object), mobile phone (app, digital asset), all together (coaster+app) and post-its (considered as baseline). After that, we want to understand the relationship between employees and smart objects on a daily basis and see whether the interaction is maintained, or they only work in the initial weeks of the experiments (expectancy effect).