This prototype application represents a portion of the work of a graduate studio project conducted in a larger group with other MGD students (Kelly Murdoch-Kitt, Brooke Chornyak, Dan McCafferty, Liese Zahabi, Samyul Kim, Robert Ruehlman and Tony Fugolo) in response to the 2008-2009 Aspen Design Challenge.
Americans use more energy than any other people on the planet. We use billions of gallons of fresh water each day to produce all the energy we need. A great deal of the energy we consume is used to pump, treat, move and heat water. A reciprocal relationship, therefore, exists between energy and water. If using energy uses water and using water uses energy, then conserving energy conserves water, and conserving water conserves energy.
Current is the name of an application Robert Ruehlman and I prototyped to help bring this to light. It is not apparent to many Americans that our water and energy systems are so profoundly connected. Principally, this is because the water consumed in energy production —and the energy used in water treatment, distribution and end use — is effectively invisible.
Current is an application that aims to bring to light the relationship between energy use and water consumption, water use and energy consumption. A desktop widget serves as the interface to an online tool that obtains data on your usage patterns from your utility companies. The current aquarium screensaver provides visual feedback on your conservation successes, responding organically to your current rating. An incentive to conserve is generated through a social networking component, as current users compete to maintain the unique beauty of their aquariums through continued conservation success.