Powerchord: Exploring ambient audio feedback on energy use

Dan Lockton, Flora Bowden, Claire Matthews

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


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 nearreal 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 cocreation 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’).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiving Labs
Subtitle of host publicationDesign and Assessment of Sustainable Living
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783319335278
ISBN (Print)9783319335261
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017.


  • Energy use
  • Sonification
  • Ubiquitous computing


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