Time Magazine's 50 Best Inventions Power Up
Time Magazine just released their list of 50 best inventions of 2010. Some of their top picks in the Green Energy category are great examples of visualizing energy consumption in a way that makes electricity and energy tangible to the user.
The Interactive Institute, a Swedish non profit that focuses on technology and design, makes the list with their Power-Aware Cord. The cord glows with neon blue light to make show how much electricity is going into each appliance you use. The stronger the current you are using, the brighter the light of the spiral cord. Beyond causing a distraction with an electrical light show, has this really changed user behavior? In research testing for the device they found that by making the "invisible visible," users were more conscious of their energy use and motivated them to unplug from the appliances that were energy vampires.
Before pulling out five key concepts at the end of our Energy ThinkIn, we had distilled the larger themes of the breakout group. One was "The E in Me," the idea that human generated power could be an energy source for major appliances; any extra energy you exert from, say, working out, you can contribute to the smart grid for your community. Apparently telecommunications provider Orange had a similar idea. Orange created a prototype of rubber boots that can convert heat into currents so the more you hit the streets, the more electricity generated to power your cell phone, for instance. Building off this idea and harnessing people power, engineers in Paris use the heat generated from collected body heat on the metro to heat a public housing on Rue Beaubourg. According to the article "by 2011 Métro heating system will cut carbon dioxide emissions from the housing project's heating system by a third."