Transparent Energy Visualization

Project Description

The proliferation of smart devices throughout the home has provided owners with greater control over their appliances but little has been done to address environmental impact. Aside from a monthly electric bill, homeowners have few tools to understand their energy consumption habits.

A system providing real-time visualization of energy use provides the opportunity for homeowners to make decisions to lower their footprint and environmental impact. 

This project served as my year-long senior capstone at RIT and the concept was a finalist in the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute Research and Development competition. 


Design prompt

Develop a concept for a control device interface that helps homeowners understand their energy use and help to make decisions leading to energy use reduction.

Project mission

Tap into the circuit breaker in the home to capture real-time usage data and create an in-home visual feedback system to enable homeowners to better manage their energy footprint and electricity bill.

Project components

Digital feedback

Complex data visualizations will be available to users through a web and mobile UI. This will assist users in viewing trends over time, identify energy hungry appliances, and allow setting goals or budgets for usage reduction.

Ambient Feedback

Lighting and auditory feedback will be leveraged to visualize and inform users of where their energy is being used. This will employ passive notifications to subconsciously raise awareness and change habits.

Technology analysis

Non Intrusive Load Monitoring (NILM)

NILM is a process for analyzing changes in the voltage and current going into a residence and using machine learning to deduce what appliances are being used within the home. It is a very mature technology and can even recognize individual appliances power draw over time.


System Workflow

This workflow helps to describe how the many moving pieces of the energy visualization system work together. It begins with the ambient feedback that alerts a homeowner about their energy usage - this homeowner can then choose a number of options from manually adjusting their use, no action, or seeking more information through the conversational interface or looking at the digital application.


Digital Interface


Information Architecture

This IA is a simple breakdown demonstrating how the myriad data is organized within the application. 


Interaction Model

This interaction model incorporates 3 'planes' to allow users to interact with the application in different depths. This helps to create a hierarchy of simple interactions all the way through deep data analysis. For example application alerts appear on the first plane in modal overlays, the second plane acts as a content and data overview browser for at a glance information. The third plane allows for users to dig deeper into the actual data points and event logging.



These sketches take the previously established information architecture and mesh it with the applications interaction models. This sketching exercise helped me break down the applications key interactions and establish hierarchy prior to beginning wireframing.

Mobile Comps

Ambient Feedback

panel sketch ideation


Panel 3D print


Panel Interactions


Exploded View