It’s been three months since we held our Energy ThinkIn, an all day ideation session done in collaboration with the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) to find our Energy Panda, a prompt with a name, symbol, product, ecosystem and story, that inspires energy conscious individuals and galvanizes their communities to change the ways they use (and even think of) energy. With input from thought leaders from companies and organizations like Control4, Ember, GE, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, People Power Company, PG&E, Silver Spring Networks, and beyond, the ThinkIn started a fulfilling and fascinating journey, and it’s not over yet.
Since the Energy ThinkIn, frog designers, technologists and strategists participated in multiple “design sprints”—quick creative sessions to evolve concepts, enriching them with stories, symbols, and services. To understand the energy conscious consumer, we spoke to average folks about what the words “eco” and “energy” and “smart grid” mean to them. We expanded our audience to kids and asked them to tell us what they think a symbol for electricity should look like. We’ve taken our concepts on the road to conferences across the country, getting feedback from industry experts on how to shape our ideas and make them a reality for consumers.
Today, at the SGCC Symposium at the DistribuTECH conference, we’ll present the three concepts that, through exploration and iteration, have continued to rise to the top over and over again because of their emotional power and potential impact.
Following the symposium today, our goal will be to work closely with SGCC members to choose a final concept to carry forward and bring to reality as part of the organization’s mission to make the smart grid more accessible to consumers.
LOOP: Connected web of energy for all
Form follows function, but it can also inspire awe, reverence and ceremony. Loop uses the mobius strip, a perfect mathematical form with one continuous surface (like an infinity symbol) to remind us of the our contributions to a never-ending natural cycle: from engineers to consumers, from plants to transmission cables to homes, from the Earth to our fingertips, and back again. At first, the loop will be an energy-conscious lifestyle statement, appearing as a t-shirt decal, a pinwheel for your bicycle, or a rain chain for your house. In time, the loop will become more than just a ubiquitous symbol. As a community’s adoption of the loop grows, the objects can function as a rooftop generator or as a large-scale monument that physically plugs into the grid, representing your neighborhood’s commitment to the energy cause.
CHARGE: The energy grid in all of us
The Charge concept connects us to the energy surging through our communities with a single handshake. The seed of Charge is a solar-powered ring made from a core of tungsten encased in a clear resin. When you put the ring around your finger, your skin connects the two ends allowing the light to travel from one end of the ring to the other. The tube of light reveals a lightning bolt at the center. When you shake hands, fist bump, or come in close proximity with another rinjig wearer, the two rings exchange data and literally start building a network of energy conscious consumers. A connected smartphone app, visualizing your real-time energy use, can pull data from your robust social network and provide an augmented reality, like a pair of energy x-ray goggles, that allows you to see your environment in a new way.
FACES: Smart power for a better world
The Faces concept rests on a kid-focused mythic universe of characters that represent different forms of energy. The seed of this concept is a short video on YouTube or a mini-game that shows the heroes saving overworked electrons , abused by clueless humans. The stories turn ordinary actions, like leaving the fridge open, into extraordinary adventures. Once children adopt these characters and their lessons, Faces will grow into a transmedia franchise with comic books, backpacks, and figurines much like Sponge Bob or Dora the Explorer. These artifacts will not only become part of the next generation’s understanding of energy conservation, but will also remind the whole family to be more cautious about the energy they consume.
Check out Executive Creative Director David Merkoski explain the thinking behind the concepts in the video below:
To get a complete look at all the Energy Panda concepts, scroll through the slides below: