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.’
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.’
1016 BR Amsterdam
Read more about the importance of childhood energy education