CareToSave: Preparing kids for the energy transition

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The product package is quite a simple one: a friendly-looking polar bear glows 18 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).

Aims and objectives of this sustainable energy action

On the face of it, the product package is quite a simple one: a friendly-looking polar bear glows 18 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). The bear, Hyko, comes with a book to explain how over-consumption of energy can destroy his habitat. There is also a Hyko App for i-pads and i-phones, 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. This information can be accessed by parents even when they are not home, so they are can tell if there are devices left on, or if, for example, the empty freezer is consuming energy unnecessarily...

To realise this simple concept, Hyko has been built from sophisticated data analysis and sensors. The bear is highly sensitive. ‘You can instantly see the change even on small devices. For instance, you can open the fridge and the bear will show a change to the next colour level,’ says its enthusiastic creator. The system adjusts to clients’ energy needs. ‘When you install Hyko with sensors, it will start measuring your electricity consumption and in a short time it will know your minimum consumption, your average, your maximum. It will adjust automatically and set up the colours appropriately.’ 

Technical and financial implementation

The key to Hyko’s ability to communicate the reality of a household’s energy consumption is that the system uses real-time feedback. Achieving this was one of the initial hurdles to creating the product. ‘Today’s smart meters could only provide ten or higher data frequency, which is not enough,’ Shmyhelskyy explains, ‘We use non-intrusive electricity monitoring through a current clamp which is placed over the main cables going from the electricity meter. Through wireless technology it transmutes information every second to the main product – Hyko the polar bear. There are a number of sensors, allowing Hyko to be responsive to the environment he is located in. He changes his brightness levels and data frequency accordingly, so as not use energy wastefully himself. We don’t use any other hardware solutions, but develop our own and test with end users for quality assurance.’ 

Lessons learnt

‘In hardware startups it usually takes from €100 000 to €300 000 in capital to get from the idea to the market,’ explains Shmyhelskyy, ‘I began by personally investing in the product development.’ These early efforts won him some acclaim, such as second place in the energy section for 1776 Challenge Cup Berlin, and the support of the prestigious Berlin Hardware Accelerator. Last year the company was chosen by the Rockstart Smart Energy Programme, providing Shmyhelskyy with the capital and support to finetune the product and business model. Since then his hard work has paid off with innovation awards from IR Smart Grids InnovationCleanWeb Hackaton and a place in the finals for the upcomingEuropean Utility Week awards.

How this action could be replicated

Shmyhelskyy’s previous expertise was in gamification, and he believes that this knowledge will feed into the further development of Hyko; ‘Being constantly connected to the internet opens up a continuum for engagement and learning provided through electricity, sensor data and gamification,’ he says. CareToSave already have an impressive product to offer, and Hyko has already been preordered by some utilities, but Shmyhelskyy is not content to stop here. ‘We are a social enterprise,’he says, ‘we are working with electricity at the moment, but we want to take it further go into reduction of other interrelated energy sources... I believe that Hyko could ease the energy transition by making the topic of energy simpler and more interesting to broader audiences, the innovation behind Hyko is going to help users to save energy immediately, but it will also make a lasting difference by providing lifelong learning for tomorrow’s adults.’ 

Contact details

Andriy Shmyhelskyy

Herengracht 182                                                                                                                                    

1016 BR Amsterdam                                                                                                                            

info@caretosave.me

Further information

Read more about the importance of childhood energy education