With a little help from one heroic polar bear, green start-up CaretoSave is preparing the next generation for an energy-efficient future. After years of development, the company has teamed up with Dutch grid operator, Stedin, to create Hyko — a multi-media educational tool designed to bring energy awareness into the home of every child in Europe.
On Wednesday 4 February, children and parents gathered at the Bibliotheek Rotterdam for the official launch of the Hyko app – a 33-page interactive iPad storybook to help kids learn all about energy efficiency and climate change. The app is only one part of the dynamic Hyko package which includes a great storybook, a home energy monitoring kit, and a beautiful bear who warns the family if they are consuming levels of energy that could endanger his species.
Hyko is the brainchild of Andriy Shmyhelskyy, a young Norwegian entrepreneur dedicated to educating the next generation for an energy-efficient Europe. When he founded CaretoSave, Shmyhelskyy knew only that he wanted to contribute to a more energy-efficient future by developing an energy-awareness aid for young children. It is with this intention that he signed the Oslo Climate Pact in 2013, and began to research energy education with a view to creating a product that would train the adults of tomorrow in responsible energy consumption.
Over the last two years, Shmyhelskyy has used smart energy monitoring techniques, books, computer software and unique hardware to developHyko. Since then his hard work has paid off with a series of innovation awards and, this year, a coveted grant agreement with SpeedUp! Europe.
Stedin and CaretoSave have spent February travelling the Netherlands to read to children at schools and libraries about the adventures of Hyko the polar bear. The Hyko facebook page offers parents and teachers a chance to keep up with the exciting developments of the Hyko adventure. ‘I believe that Hyko could ease the energy transition by making the topic of energy simpler and more interesting to broader audiences,’ says Shmyhelskyy.
Shmyhelskyy believes that the energy transition depends not only on technology and renewable energy solutions, but on new attitudes to energy consumption as well. ‘Even now, many people don’t acknowledge that there is a problem with the way we consume energy,’ he says, ‘changing the behaviour of adults is very hard. The only way to sustain a change in attitudes to energy is to focus on the kids and bring the reality of climate change to them.’
The app and storybook have been a big hit with kids, but this is only the beginning. ‘It is part of our mission to create energy heroes in every home,’ says Schmyhelskyy. The main product package – Hyko the glowing bear – will soon be available all over Europe. ‘We are currently doing pre-sales of the product for the B2B market — energy companies, housing corporations, corporate sector. That's how we are able to continue development... and this spring, we will launch a crowdfunding campaign for the whole package.’
Designed to appeal to children, the concept of Hyko is quite a simple one: a friendly looking polar bear glows 20 shades ranging from white, through blue, to red, to indicate whether the family is consuming a lot of energy (red), and thereby upsetting the polar bear, or is being impressively energy efficient (white). There is also a monitoring app and an internet site that notifies the family in more detail about their energy consumption, so that the whole family is primed for energy awareness. When this polar bear starts to enter the homes and schools of Europe’s children, he will serve as a constant, active reminder of the importance of sustainable behaviour; imparting better energy habits to those who will need them the most. ‘The innovation behind Hyko is going to help users to save energy immediately,’ says Shmyhellskyy, ‘but it will also make a lasting difference by providing lifelong learning for tomorrow’s adults.’
Read more about the role of children’s stories in conservation education
Read more about the importance of childhood energy education