Archive for the ‘2.5 Explorations’ Category

2.5.9 SunCat feedback

Sunday, May 10th, 2009


A selection of posts on the batteries

A selection of posts on the batteries

The concept was picked up by the editor of who wrote an article on the project. As writes about often advanced technology re-configured or built into something new by private persons, they have become a primary news source for numerous other blog/news sites. From here the concept spread like wildfire.,,,, Boing Boing,, and were amongst the larger to write about the concept.

In the moment of writing are there 7520 hits on google and 172 blogs that link back to my original post. But the most interesting result of this hype was all the discussion generated over these sites, my blog and flickr. It was most encouraging and lead directly to the format of the result.

The most interesting part is that no one that I have discovered says the concept is fake. A few points out that it would not work due to some technical details, and they might be right, but even they did not dismiss the idea. In fact did several commentators suggest improvements and work a rounds to make it function.

Here are some:

The helpful:

Goondoks/Gizmodo: You really only need the the PV on half the battery, unless you use mirrors. The windows in my house don’t track the sun all to well. Maybe you could charge them by setting them up like sun dials[1].

The Smart:

Carlhage/Cnet:A flexible cell might be 50W/m2 or 5mw/cm2 in full sun. An AA battery is about 3mWh, and
there will be a small area, maybe 3cm2, but reflection at shallow angles might reduce this to 1 or 2 cm2. Also, it won’t be at the maximum power point, so 1/2 the power is lost. It might need 1000 hours of full-sun to charge– probably longer than the self-discharge rate[2].

The not so helpful, but funny:

abeagle/hackaday: get your self some radioactive waste, mix it up into a paste. Then smear the radioactive goo all over the face of the solar cell. Finally roll up the solar cell into the size of your desired battery. Viola, This will work during cloudy days too[3].

Finally there was a request to buy volumes of these batteries to Haiti and a request came from a Japanese television show to have them featured on TV. But that will be for another day.

The concept is also presented as the DIY project of one of my personas in the blog

References in this post
  1. [*]
  2. [*]
  3. [*]

2.5.8 The SunCat Batteries

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Incubation period
Some weeks after the state of gadgets where investigated and some concepts in this genre was sketched, an idea formed that crystallized the concept of a self-sufficient gadget. Many of the gadgets are made to charge external batteries form a renewable energy source, such as the sun. However, these gadgets introduce an extra item you need to carry to power your other gadgets.

Rapid Evidencing
My idea was to eliminate this extra step and make batteries self-charging. This idea was presented in the format of a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project that are very popular online. Through detailed technology research to provide additional arguments and a picture by picture tutorial, the project was presented on Flickr and my original blog. The crucial bait was to add one image to the Flickr gallery belonging to the MAKE magazine which has a large following in the online DIY community. The result was spectacular.

These images are from my Flickr account. They are commented to tell a story.

2.5.7 Mapping my local grid

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Following up on the previous post on social metering applications I tried to draw a map of how I see the energy regime where i live.

This diagrammatic representation show how how energy in various forms are utilized in my apartment building. The number of apartments can be multiplied by 40 or so. The dotted green lines show what you can (also in near future) add to this by installing your own metering service. Due to the low variation in energy prices prices in Norway are these metering services poorly implemented by utilities (see also[1]).

Mapping these connections makes the overall vertical nature of contemporary energy distribution quite visible. A change in the paradigm from a vertical centralized production system to a horizontal energy sharing system would probably have great influence, at least on this map. The 3rd party metering companies also signals the beginning of parasitical entities that flatten the structure without any need for policy change or negotiation with the utilities.

References in this post
  1. Darby, S. (2006). The effectiveness of feedback on Energy consumption. Oxford: University Of Oxford. [*]

2.5.6 elec-tricity

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Things That Talk
I have for a long time been fascinated by the notion of objects having their own social lives and networks. Be it Donald A. Norman’s advanced, but inexpensive “Information Appliances”[1], Adam Greenfield’s “Everyware”[2] or Bruce Sterling’s omnipresent “Ahrphids & Spimes”[3] I really enjoy the notion that as computing spreads into the fabric of everyday life, objects take on a life of their own.

So.. what would wires say?

I want more of this. Please?
References in this post
  1. Norman, D. A. (1998). The Invisible Computer. London: MIT Press. [*]
  2. Greenfield, A. (2006). Everyware. Berkley: New Riders. [*]
  3. Sterling, B. (2005). Shaping Things. London: MIT Press [*]

2.5.5 One Step Removed

Friday, March 27th, 2009

An Ideom
“One Step Removed” implies that the current situation is happening one iteration away from the source or base. Be it a relative, someone outside of the “inner circle” or as in this case on top of the electrical wires.

Direct Manipulation
As we all know these old circuit breaker panels they are rather simple in operation. When a fuse is blown you unscrew it and replaces it with a new one.

The standard analogue breaker panel

The standard analogue breaker panel

Indirect Manipulation
The idea is that I do not want to directly manipulate the hardware, I would like an advanced interface that lets me do what ever i want to. Ofcourse it would need a connection to the hardware, but that is for the engineers to figure out!

Additional layer of communication

Additional layer of communication

2.5.4 Exploring: Shock -A- Bunny

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Cover page

Based on the cheap current detector or the more expensive AC Clamp the initial idea was an attachment to a cell phone to share Turn-off-meterwith others that you turned something off. This developed into a to a toy design that served children to earn money by being rewarded, in money, by their parents. The toy/service is sold by a bank such as DnbNOR that creates services around small money transfers by SMS. Parents make a deal with the bank to transfer a small amount of money each time the child switches off a light. The role of the toy was to “eat” wires and to detect when the current in the wire stopped and thereby signalling a gained credit. Then the funds are transferred. This creates a game where the child must balance the annoying aspects of switching light off with the reward of money. “Parents deal, Kids play!”from-space


The concept became more of an art project when the early concept was sketched. Research at that point led away from gadgets and into more service design and therefore was killed off.Sock-A-Bunny 112

2.5.3 Visual idea bank

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

This is a “Lo-Fi” idea bank of post-its and doodles. They have a value in that they indicate some of the concepts to be refined in the end, and if you got sharp eyes one might spot a concept here and there.

*Starred items are some of the concepts explored further.

2.5.2 Switches I press daily

Friday, February 6th, 2009

When going through the daily routine of turning on and turning off lights I could not remember how many buttons i pressed. Taking a camera on the next round I was surprised by the number of buttons that was regularly pressed twice a day. Others was invited to this experiment and had the same revelation: 29 actions that could have been greener.

I was working on a concept on decision support switches when I became curious to what switches I press each day. I went around my home and made a series of 29 switches. I did not know that I pressed that many switches. I published them on flickr and encourage others to do the same. The common word was that they never had realised they pressed all these switches.

Knowing how many switches you press each day is interesting in that you change a something from on to off or the other way around. Why do you do this? Because, as I discovered, we press more switches than we think we do I am tempted to say that we change their state mostly out of tradition or habit. Inserting some additional information into the equation might result in change in behaviour. This information or decision support can be valuable as it is made visible at the moment of decision.

2.5.1 Limited resources

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Just to add to the previous post on concepts: The limited electrical supply could be generated by a community wind turbine. What is the front end for the inhabitant of individual appartments in this configuration?