Living Labs pp 297-308 | Cite as

Powerchord: Exploring Ambient Audio Feedback on Energy Use

  • Dan LocktonEmail author
  • Flora Bowden
  • Claire Matthews


Influencing energy use is a major research topic. However, many approaches lump ‘energy demand’ together, disconnected from everyday artefacts, the realities of household life, and people’s diverse understandings of the systems around them. There is an opportunity for research through design which addresses relationships with the invisible concept of energy through new kinds of feedback. Powerchord is an ongoing (2014—) exploration of sonifying energy use in near-real time. The prototypes developed so far monitor multiple household electrical appliances in parallel, turning readings of the instantaneous power being drawn into various kinds of sounds. Powerchord provides a form of ambient experiential feedback intended to fit with the soundscapes of everyday domestic life, while (perhaps) enabling a deeper understanding of the characteristics of energy use. The concept was developed from ideas suggested by householders during co-creation sessions as part of the European SusLabNWE project, funded by INTERREG IVB, as part of our wider exploration of the invisibility of energy which also led to ‘Drawing Energy’ (see Chap.  14 ‘Participatory Drawing in Ethnographic Research’).


Energy use Sonification Ubiquitous computing 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal College of ArtLondonUK
  2. 2.IndependentLondonUK

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