Co-Owning Your Turbine

Feb 2019 | Interaction Design Studio II | Group Project with Zhaoqi Ge, Aniruddh Iyer, Katherine Jiang

To identify areas of opportunities and design service design in the form of a mobile app for a product company WindStax, which is a Pittsburgh company that manufactures and sells vertical turbines.

In this project, we designed in the perspective of both the users and the client for business value, practiced pitching a mobile service concept and explored the role and design of microinteractions. In the early research phase, we explored WindStax’s current offerings and the overall wind energy domain and identified goals and stakeholders. From this research, we identified several insights and opportunities:

[1] “Prosumers” are energy consumers who generate and consume renewable energy on site

[2] WindStax wants to expand their product to the household consumer market

[3] Household consumers typically cannot afford such a hefty investment; WindStax’s clients are mainly businesses

[4] Incentives and tax credits are available for people who use green energy; this can be a motivation for household consumers

Ultimately, we recommended WindStax to make use of its manufacturing ability to become energy providers and created an app that would give household consumers access to wind energy through co-usage of nearby turbines within their community. This solution would allow for the fostering communities within close proximity of a turbine, make wind energy more affordable through co-usage and allow consumers to go green without the burden of making a large initial investment.

 
Final screens of our mobile app design

Final screens of our mobile app design

 

Design breakdown

Home-Screen-1.gif
 
 

Home Screen

Video allows for a quick sneak peak as to what to expect with the turbines.

 
 
 

Microinteraction 1

Boundaries on the map

With the phone’s location, all immediate surrounding turbines from the consumers location are shown. However, not all of them may be available due to limitations in distance or remaining energy capacity. To help visually indicate which turbines are available to the consumer, a green circle will pop up and its radius is the maximum distance the turbine is able to service to.

Map-Microinteraction.gif
 
Sliding Microinteraction.gif
 
 

Microinteraction 2

Reveal more information

Clicking on the turbine, a tab pops up to show information on the turbine. At the minimum, consumers can see the amount of co-users and wind power consumed. Swiping up will reveal even more information, such as learning more about any incentives that may apply to the consumer. The purpose of the learn more tab is to allow the consumer to become better informed so that they will feel fully prepared and in control of what they will be investing in and help the consumer make an easier decision.

 
 
 

Microinteraction 3

Adjust your ownership percentage

Consumers have the ability to adjust their desired ownership percentage in the application process, which will simultaneously update the estimated monthly payment. Consumers will be able to see a quote before they submit their application to co-use the turbine.

Application-Microinteraction.gif
 

Roadmap

Looking into the future for what this app could provide for WindStax, data that is collected automatically can help WindStax develop a more catered solution to specific demographic groups within the household consumers. Below are some data points that could be collected automatically through the user’s interactions:

[1] Fine/Coarse Location (Is there a specific location type/zone?)

[2] Household Information (Is there a tendency in the type/size of households that apply? Single? Couple? Family?)

[3] Amount of time spent (Filtering: Is cost a big deal-breaker? Is there a range certain groups of people filter to? More Info: Does short duration mean they’ve found what they need?)

[4] Number of times (Compares current utilities:  Do people prefer to perform cost-benefit analysis upfront? Clicks on the “learn more” for incentives: Are incentives critical to their decision-making?)

[5] Average percentage of usage by users (Should there be a max/min limit?)

Other features that this service could work towards include:

[1] Allow users to view current turbine usage/statistics

[2] Allow users to not only co-use turbines, but also co-own turbines

[3] Allow turbine owners to sell turbine-produced energy to other consumers

 

The Process

Low-fi prototype sketched on a white board

Low-fi prototype sketched on a white board

Mid-fi prototype created on Figma

Organising our research into key points on stickies

Organising our research into key points on stickies

Value flow diagram that helped us identify and scope our project focus

Value flow diagram that helped us identify and scope our project focus

Brainstorming new services with the reversal method based on assumptions

Brainstorming new services with the reversal method based on assumptions

Brainstorming with 20 questions challenging existing services

Brainstorming with 20 questions challenging existing services