Costanza, E., Bedwell, B., Jewell, M., Colley, J., & Rodden, T. (2016). 'A bit like British Weather, I suppose'Design and Evaluation of the Temperature Calendar.
In this paper we present the design and evaluation of the Temperature Calendar -- a visualization of temperature variation within a workplace over the course of the past week. This highlights deviation from organizational temperature policy, and aims to bring staff "into the loop" of understanding and managing heating, and so reduce energy waste. The display was deployed for three weeks in five public libraries. Analysis of interaction logs, questionnaires and interviews shows that staff used the displays to understand heating in their buildings, and took action reflecting this new understanding. Bringing together our results, we discuss design implications for workplace displays, and an analysis of carbon emissions generated in constructing and operating our design. More in general, the findings helped us to reflect on the role of policy on energy consumption, and the potential for the HCI community to engage with its application, as well as its definition or modification. (PDF)
Alan, A. T., Shann, M., Costanza, E., Ramchurn, S., & Seuken, S. (2016). It is too hot: an in-situ study of three designs for heating.
Smart energy systems that leverage machine learning techniques are increasingly integrated in all aspects of our lives. To better understand how to design user interaction with such systems, we implemented three different smart thermostats that automate heating based on users' heating preferences and real-time price variations. We evaluated our designs through a field study, where 30 UK households used our thermostats to heat their homes over a month. Our findings through thematic analysis show that the participants formed different understandings and expectations of our smart thermostat, and used it in various ways to effectively respond to real-time prices while maintaining their thermal comfort. Based on the findings, we present a number of design and research implications, specifically for designing future smart thermostats that will assist us in controlling home heating with real-time pricing, and for future intelligent autonomous systems. (PDF)
Fischer, J. E., Crabtree, A., Rodden, T., Colley, J. A., Costanza, E., Jewell, M. O., & Ramchurn, S. D. (2016). “Just whack it on until it gets hot”: working with IoT data in the home.
This paper presents findings from a co-design project that aims to augment the practices of professional energy advisors with environmental data from sensors deployed in clients' homes. Premised on prior ethnographic observations we prototyped a sensor platform to support the work of tailoring advice-giving to particular homes. We report on the deployment process and the findings to emerge, particularly the work involved in making sense of or accounting for the data in the course of advice-giving. Our ethnomethodological analysis focuses on the ways in which data is drawn upon as a resource in the home visit, and how understanding and advice-giving turns upon unpacking the indexical relationship of the data to the situated goings-on in the home. This insight, coupled with further design workshops with the advisors, shaped requirements for an interactive system that makes the sensor data available for visual inspection and annotation to support the situated sense-making that is key to giving energy advice. (PDF)
Verame, J. K. M., Costanza, E., & Ramchurn, S. (2016). The Effect of Displaying System Confidence Information on the Usage of Autonomous Systems for Non-specialist Applications: A Lab Study.
Autonomous systems are designed to take actions on behalf of users, acting autonomously upon data from sensors or online sources. As such, the design of interaction mechanisms that enable users to understand the operation of autonomous systems and flexibly delegate or regain control is an open challenge for HCI. Against this background, in this paper we report on a lab study designed to investigate whether displaying the confidence of an autonomous system about the quality of its work, which we call its confidence information, can improve user acceptance and interaction with autonomous systems. The results demonstrate that confidence information encourages the usage of the autonomous system we tested, compared to a situation where such information is not available. Furthermore, an additional contribution of our work is the method we employ to study users' incentives to do work in collaboration with the autonomous system. In experiments comparing different incentive strategies, our results indicate that our translation of behavioural economics research methods to HCI can support the study of interactions with autonomous systems in the lab. (PDF)
Bedwell, B., Costanza, E., & Jewell, M. O. (2016, February). Understanding Energy Consumption at Work: Learning from Arrow Hill. In Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 1337-1348). ACM.
Most work around technological interventions for energy conservation to date has focussed on changing individual behaviour. Hence, there is limited understanding of communal settings, such as office environments, as sites for intervention. Even when energy consumption in the workplace has been considered, the emphasis has typically been on the individual. To address this gap, we conducted a study of energy consumption and management in one workplace, based on a combination of workshops with a broad range of stakeholders, and quantitative data inspections. We report and discuss findings from this study, in light of prior literature, and we present a set of implications for design and further research. In particular, three themes, and associated intervention opportunities, emerged from our data: (1) energy wastage related to “errors”; (2) the role of company policies and the negotiation that surrounds their implementation; and (3) the bigger energy picture of procurement, construction and travel. (PDF)
Alan, A. T., Ramchurn, S. D., Rodden, T., Costanza, E., Fischer, J., & Jennings, N. R. (2015, September). Managing energy tariffs with agents: a field study of a future smart energy system at home. In Adjunct Proceedings of the 2015 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and Proceedings of the 2015 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers (pp. 1551-1558). ACM.
Interactive autonomous systems are likely to be more involved in future energy systems to assist human users. Given this, we prototyped a future scenario in which householders are assisted in switching electricity tariffs by an agent-based interactive system. The system uses real-time electricity monitoring to instantiate a scenario where participants may have to make, or delegate to their agent (in a variety ways), tariff switching decisions given uncertainty about their own consumption. We carried out a field trial with 12 households for 6 weeks in order to study the notion of autonomy. The results show nuanced ways in which monitoring system performance and taking control is balanced in everyday practice. Our field study provides promising directions for future use of smart systems that help householders manage their energy.
Fischer, J. E., Costanza, E., Ramchurn, S. D., Colley, J., & Rodden, T. (2014, September). Energy advisors at work: charity work practices to support people in fuel poverty. In Proceedings of the 2014 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (pp. 447-458). ACM.
We present an ethnographic study of energy advisors working for a charity that provides support, particularly to people in fuel poverty. Our fieldwork comprises detailed observations that reveal the collaborative, interactional work of energy advisors and clients during home visits, supplemented with interviews and a participatory design workshop with advisors. We identify opportunities for Ubicomp technologies that focus on supporting the work of the advisor, including complementing the collaborative advice giving in home visits, providing help remotely, and producing evidence in support of accounts of practices and building conditions useful for interactions with landlords, authorities and other third parties. We highlight six specific design challenges that relate the domestic fuel poverty setting to the wider Ubicomp literature. Our work echoes a shift in attention from energy use and the individual consumer, specifically to matters of advice work practices and the domestic fuel poverty setting, and to the discourse around inclusive Ubicomp technologies. (PDF)
Costanza, E., Fischer, J. E., Colley, J. A., Rodden, T., Ramchurn, S. D., & Jennings, N. R. (2014, April). Doing the laundry with agents: a field trial of a future smart energy system in the home. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 813-822). ACM.
Future energy systems that rely on renewable energy may bring about a radical shift in how we use energy in our homes. We developed and prototyped a future scenario with highly variable, real-time electricity prices due to a grid that mainly relies on renewables. We designed and deployed an agent-based interactive system that enables users to effectively operate the washing machine in this scenario. The system is used to book timeslots of washing machine use so that the agent can help to minimize the cost of a wash by charging a battery at times when electricity is cheap. We carried out a deployment in 10 households in order to uncover the socio-technical challenges around integrating new technologies into everyday routines. The findings reveal tensions that arise when deploying a rationalistic system to manage contingently and socially organized domestic practices. We discuss the trade-offs between utility and convenience inherent in smart grid applications; and illustrate how certain design choices position applications along this spectrum. (PDF)
Alan, A., Costanza, E., Fischer, J., Ramchurn, S. D., Rodden, T., & Jennings, N. R. (2014, May). A field study of human-agent interaction for electricity tariff switching. In Proceedings of the 2014 international conference on Autonomous agents and multi-agent systems (pp. 965-972). International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems.
Recently, many algorithms have been developed for autonomous agents to manage home energy use on behalf of their human owners. By so doing, it is expected that agents will be more efficient at, for example, choosing the best energy tariff to switch to when dynamically priced tariffs come about. However, to date, there has been no validation of such technologies in any field trial. In particular, it has not been shown whether users prefer fully autonomous agents as opposed to controlling their preferences manually. Hence, in this paper we describe a novel platform, called TariffAgent, to study notions of flexible autonomy in the context of tariff switching. TariffAgent uses real-world datasets and real-time electricity monitoring to instantiate a scenario where human participants may have to make, or delegate to their agent (in different ways), tariff switching decisions given uncertainties about their own consumption and tariff prices. We carried out a field trial with 10 participants and, from both quantitative and qualitative results, formulate novel design guidelines for systems that implement flexible autonomy. (PDF)
Costanza, E., Ramchurn, S. D., & Jennings, N. R. (2012, September). Understanding domestic energy consumption through interactive visualisation: a field study. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM Conference on Ubiquitous Computing (pp. 216-225). ACM.
Motivated by the need to better manage energy demand in the home, in this paper we advocate the integration into Ubicomp systems of interactive energy consumption visualisations, that allow users to engage with and understand their consumption data, relating it to concrete activities in their life. To this end, we present the design, implementation, and evaluation of FigureEnergy, a novel interactive visualisation that allows users to annotate and manipulate a graphical representation of their own electricity consumption data, and therefore make sense of their past energy usage and understand when, how, and to what end, some amount of energy was used. To validate our design, we deployed FigureEnergy “in the wild” – 12 participants installed meters in their homes and used the system for a period of two weeks. The results suggest that the annotation approach is successful overall: by engaging with the data users started to relate energy consumption to activities rather than just to appliances. Moreover, they were able to discover that some appliances consume more than they expected, despite having had prior experience of using other electricity displays. (PDF)
Costanza, E., Giaccone, M., Kueng, O., Shelley, S., & Huang, J. (2010, September). Ubicomp to the masses: a large-scale study of two tangible interfaces for download. In Proceedings of the 12th ACM international conference on Ubiquitous computing (pp. 173-182). ACM.
Tangible user interfaces have been promoted and discussed in the Ubicomp and HCI communities for 15 years. In TUIs physical objects are used for the control and representation of digital information, similarly to how icons are used in graphical user interfaces for the same purpose. Most reported TUI systems have the nature of research prototypes, available in laboratories or museums. This paper reports an attempt to understand the impact of TUIs in users’ everyday environments through 2 low-cost simple set-up tangible interfaces for music that can be freely downloaded from a website. The systems are based on computer vision, printed paper and audio output. A few hundreds of users downloaded them and played with them. We logged users interaction with the interfaces and analysed content posted by them on our own and other web sites to observe and evaluate how they relate to such novel systems, taking measures to protect their privacy. Both the interaction logs and the users’ comments indicate that the tangible interfaces were accepted as normal: they were perceived just as interfaces to make music rather than esoteric systems. Its time to bring Ubicomp technology to the masses! (PDF)
Costanza, E., Panchard, J., Zufferey, G., Nembrini, J., Freudiger, J., Huang, J., & Hubaux, J. P. (2010, April). SensorTune: a mobile auditory interface for DIY wireless sensor networks. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2317-2326). ACM.
Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) allow the monitoring of activity or environmental conditions over a large area, from homes to industrial plants, from agriculture fields to forests and glaciers. They can support a variety of applications, from assisted living to natural disaster prevention. WSNs can, however, be challenging to setup and maintain, reducing the potential for real-world adoption. To address this limitation, this paper introduces SensorTune, a novel mobile interface to support non-expert users in iteratively setting up a SN. SensorTune uses non-speech audio to present to its users information regarding the connectivity of the network they are setting up, allowing them to decide how to extend it. To simplify the interpretation of the data presented, the system adopts the metaphor of tuning a consumer analog radio, a very common and well known operation. SensorTune represents the first attempt to apply mobile sonification to the domain of WSNs. A user study was conducted in which 20 subjects setup real multi-hop networks inside a large building using a limited number of wireless nodes. Subjects repeated the task with SensorTune and with a comparable mobile GUI interface. Experimental results show a statistically significant difference in the task completion time and a clear preference of users for the auditory interface. (PDF)