SHASPA – EMPOWERING TECHNOLOGY FOR ENERGYSAVINGThe same technologies which brought us “Guitar Hero”, “World of Warcraft” ,Myspace and Facebook could soon be harnessed to empower a whole generation ofcitizens to save energy and improve the environment. David Wortley, Director of theSerious Games Institute (SGI) at Coventry University describes how a collaborationbetween the SGI, a Swiss entrepreneur and a digital signage company has developednext generation smart metering technology that could transform energy usage in homesand businesses.Virtual Visitors to the SHASPA GridSHASPA – Intelligent Shared SpacesSHASPA is cocktail of emerging technologies which combines wireless sensors, virtualworlds, social networking and data visualisation to engage, inform, empower andmotivate individuals to make significant improvements in their energy usage. It useslow cost sensor technologies to monitor environmental factors such as temperature,humidity etc and energy usage at appliance level. This data is then processed by theSHASPA bridge to be presented in rich media formats, including 3D visualisation of thehome or business environment, on a desktop PC, laptop or mobile phone with tools toanalyse and control individual devices anytime, anywhere from the internet.
Crucially, SHASPA also connects to intelligent databases on a Grid network to helpusers to individually or collectively share best practices on energy management usingthe latest ideas for social networking.SHASPA Home Energy KitVideo Games and Virtual WorldsOne of the greatest challenges in tackling environmental issues is citizen engagement.The apathy of the individual to crucial societal issues which, unless he or she is directlyaffected, limits the effectiveness of publicity or national/international initiatives is agreat barrier to major improvements in environmental management.Video games and virtual worlds enjoy massive commercial success which, in the caseof video games, eclipses even the movie and music industries. Virtual worlds such asSecond Life and World of Warcraft have millions of subscribers willing to spend hoursengaged in these immersive environments because of rich experiences they bring.Increasingly, these “immersive technologies” are being applied for serious purposes tobring benefits to the individual and society. This is why the Serious Games Institute atCoventry University was set up in 2007 as an international centre of excellence toexplore and disseminate best practices for the serious use of immersive technologies.Games like WiiFit from Nintendo are making physical exercise accessible and fun forwhole generations of people who would not otherwise see the inside of a gymnasium.Online games such as Floodsim from Playgen have engaged tens of thousands ofcitizens to play the role of the UK’s “Flood Tzar” and examine the impact ofenvironmental policy decisions on flood prevention.These examples illustrate the power of interactive digital media not only to engage usersbut also to develop their understanding, involvement in and potential contribution toglobal social issues such as health and fitness and the environment. This engagement ofthe individual citizen is vital to the substantial environmental changes needed over the
coming years and immersive environments such as video games and virtual worlds areproving to be successful in not only attracting users but influencing their understanding,attitudes and behaviours in important societal areas.The main reasons why I believe this trend is likely to continue and accelerate are that :- 1. These immersive environments have increasingly impressive realism and fidelity which makes users “believe” they are the character they are controlling 2. The constant improvements in personalisation and profiling create a game or virtual world that is truly personal to the individual, giving a sense of genuine identity and ownership.The most advanced versions of SHASPA have a virtual world embedded in theSHASPA bridge controller which could provide a 3D visualisation of the user’s homeor business.Social Networking ApplicationsThe other technology phenomenon which SHASPA is tapping into is the power ofsocial networks such as Myspace and Facebook which act as hubs to communities ofindividuals who can collectively influence societal change across the globe. Thesetechnologies, combined with mobile phones and instant messaging can be powerfulvehicles for influencing social, economic and political change.SHASPA Social Energy MeterOne of SHASPA’s innovations is the concept of the social energy meter attached to theSHASPA controller. This device can be manufactured to be an attractive householdlamp which has two halves. Each half of the lamp can be linked to separate data sourcesto provide an easy visual comparison between the 2 sets of data. In SHASPA’s HomeEnergy solution this could compare today’s energy consumption with either the average
daily consumption or a target consumption figure and this kind of simple, instant visualprompting can act as a constant prompt to influence behaviour.The Social Energy Meter could also be linked into popular social networking tools suchas Facebook, Xing or Twitter to act as a form of competition or collaboration betweengroups of users who want to collectively make a difference to their energy usage. Theapplications for this device are only limited by the imagination of the users.3D Data VisualisationLack of energy consumption and other environmental information at a granular levelalso limits both the ability and involvement of the individual to make substantialimprovements in their own environment. Quarterly energy bills do not help individualsto understand or manage energy usage in the home or office. This is evidenced by theimpact of simple smart meters which compare usage day by day, week by week andmonth by month and can typically improve energy consumption by around 10%, simplybecause these are tools which quickly show the impact of any behavioural changes.Existing smart meters are somewhat limited because they typically only show theenergy consumption for a whole property and do not provide sufficient granular detailto know where the biggest savings can be made at appliance level.Daden’s Datascape Control RoomAnother important factor in the SHASPA solution is the ability to visualise live datafrom multiple sources in 3 dimensions. An excellent example of this application in anenvironmental context is the Datascape control room developed by Birminghamconsultancy Daden Ltd. The virtual control room was developed in Second Life to showmany sample applications including sea temperatures and environmental data feeds overthe web.
SHASPA is already being used to visualise energy consumption and load balancing ofmainframe server farms where a number of geographically separated mainframes can bevisually aggregated in a single virtual room, providing a far richer and more easilymanaged control environment than previous solutions.The SHASPA GridThe SHASPA home energy solution has a spectrum of options from a simple smartmetering solutions that provides energy consumption data monitoring to a virtual worldcontroller linked to an intelligent grid network.The SHASPA GridThe SHASPA Home Energy solution (www.shaspa.com) is the first application of thiscocktail of emerging technologies to target energy consumption but the technologyarchitecture and the way it is being developed has almost unlimited environmentalapplications because it can process and aggregate environmental sensor data of any kindto allow it to be visualised, analysed, monitored and controlled through the power ofcollective intelligence and tools which genuinely involve and engage the individualcitizen.David Wortley is Director of the Serious Games Institute at Coventry University(www.seriousgamesinstitute.co.uk).