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Sinergia

Virtual energy trainer that helps monitor and plan your energy consumptions

 

Our team of 4 developed the concept of Sinergia for the Master PSSD Final Synthesis course at Politecnico di Milano in collaboration with MilanoSesto. I was responsible for building Singeria's application and system. Our team had the opportunity to pitch our concept to MilanoSesto stakeholders, developers, and their partners. Sinergia was acknowledged and awarded "Most Pragmatic."

Timeline

September 2019 - January 2020

(5 months)

Role

Product Design, Service Design, User Experience, Visual Design, Prototyping, User Research, Storyboarding

Imagine this is your energy bill. Can you understand it? Energy bills can be intimidating and difficult to read. You want to consume less energy, but you forget and exceed your consumption. Energy is intangible, and it's hard to see energy as a tangible value. How can we change the way people view their energy?

Image from DTE Energy website

Brief

This project was in partnership with MilanoSesto to carry out their MilanoSesto 2023-2030 project plan towards redeveloping the area of Sesto San Giovanni into the new “smart city.” We chose to focus on the topic: energy and what the future of energy will be for smart cities. Analyzing our scientific research and surveying over 100 people living in Milan on how their experience with electricity bills.

How can we help train people to better monitor and plan their energy consumption?

Problem

01. In 2030, the demand for electricity will increase and one-third of it will be produced by condominiums. Therefore, the future of cities and residential areas will find new systems to manage and control their energy consumption.

 

02. 66/100 people from our survey say they do not manage their energy bills by themselves.

03. 61/100 people from our survey say that they focus the most on money when reviewing their energy bills.

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Solution

One solution is to develop an energy community, which is a group of actors (private and/or public) that actively cooperate to develop high levels of smart energy supply and achieve benefits on economy, sustainability, and energy security. It is a system based on a shared and sustainable approach to energy that becomes a social aggregator for citizens. Therefore, we developed Sinergia.

Service

Sinergia is a virtual energy trainer that allows people to monitor and plan their energy consumptions.

 

Product

Through the Sinergia app, the user will be able to monitor, track and plan their energy in real-time. The energy saved can be converted into energy coins, which can be used to obtain sustainable services and community projects. On the Sinergia app, we provide two main offerings: energy training plan and energy reuse.

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Home & Monitoring

Purpose

Sinergia is a new transparent way to use and reuse energy for the community neighborhood of the future. The goal is to engage people in community activities by giving them the possibility to have an active role within the neighborhood's economical and social growth. Sinergia's vision is to empower and raise awareness of behavioral change towards energy efficiency at the individual level, with the final goal to enhance a sustainable, inclusive, and proactive energy community. 

Co-design

To develop, enrich and test our concept of Sinergia, our team conducted 3 co-design sessions with targeted users and energy industry experts. We used different tools and methods for each co-design session. With the insights we gathered from each session, we were able to refine our initial concept into our final concept: Sinergia. 

Outcome

We presented Sinergia to MilanoSesto stakeholders and developers. We were awarded the "Most Pragmatic" project and received a prize of €500.00. We were featured in an Italian newspaper, "Il Giorno." We also had the opportunity to pitch our project to a partner company of MilanoSesto that specializes in energy.

My Role

Our team of 4 spent countless days and nights discussing, brainstorming, and collaborating on every part of Sinergia's development. The work of story-telling, presentations, and prototypes was divided among the 4 of us. I was mostly responsible for building Sinergia's application and system.

 

Takeaways

01. Product Thinking

We truly believe that the energy of the future starts from a proactive energy community, in which renewable energy is efficiently distributed (even sold) through a smart energy grid. Sinergia provides the potential of using blockchain as a tool to manage, verify and record energy transactions between prosumers and consumers of energy. Sinergia was positively received by our client: MilanoSesto. However, a few energy companies in Italy, such as Edison, were concerned about how a decentralized energy system in Italy is too "futuristic" of an idea at the moment.

02. Visual Design

Experimented with neomorphic-style UI ( we tried 😅) and I decided to re-design during the second iteration phase. When we prototyped our application during the presentation, a few users said that the visual design was overwhelming. The flow was long and tedious.

Challenges

01. Trying to understand the decentralized energy market and the smart grid was cumbersome but essential to the success of our project. Our service required in-depth research of how the technical side of Sinergia works: Energy to energy conversion, how blockchain can be used for better energy efficiency, ownership, and control over one's energy, the possibility of an energy coin cryptocurrency, and Sinergia's various revenue streams.

02. Co-designing was exhausting. The biggest challenge was the communicate, organize and plan out all 3 co-design sessions within a short amount of time (1 month). After every co-design session, we would iterate our concept and plan to present it for our next co-design session.

Future goals

01. Usability test for application

02. Iterations, iterations, and more iterations on the UI/UX of the app.

03. Strategize how to better organize the insights gathered after each co-design session.

How does Sinergia work?

The Sinergia app is the core foundation of the service. In the app, users will be able to monitor and plan their energy consumptions, as well as convert their energy saved into energy coins. On the Sinergia app, we offer users 3 steps: assessment, planning, and reuse energy.

 

Assessment

The first step is the assessment. Sinergia calculates a monthly energy package based on your needs and helps you to comply with it through a real-time monitoring system.

Monitoring & planning

Sinergia calculates a monthly energy package based on your needs and helps you to comply with it through a real-time monitoring system. It will also provide the user a strategic planning system that combines external and internal factors, such as your personal calendar, weather forecasts, and the price of energy on the market. 

Reuse energy

Sinergia offers the possibility to reuse the energy saved at the end of the month by converting them into energy coins. The energy coins can be used to contribute to the local community. With the coins, the user will be able to access services such as local electric services and sustainable businesses. They also have the option to use the coins and invest in community projects for the future energy community of MilanoSesto.

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02. Energy monitoring

Real-time monitoring of energy consumption on the digital platform

01. Energy package

Choose a customized package that provides a fixed amount of energy monthly.

03. Energy reuse

Convert saved energy into points and access sustainable services.

Business model canvas

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Prototype process

Iteration 1:

I made a user flow to map out how the user navigates through our three main features of the app: assessment, monitoring/planning, and reuse of energy. The app's visual design was experimental. Our team agreed to try a neomorphic-style UI. We knew this type of style was not practical for the user and developer, but we wanted to play around with the visuals and capture a soft, innovative, and minimal look towards energy. I used Adobe XD to create the prototype. Honestly, I do feel a bit "cringe" when I look at this first iteration of this neomorphic-style UI. But I'm glad we took a risk, failed fast, and learned from it. 

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Iteration 2:

The second iteration was done after the presentation of the Sinergia project. I knew that the neomorphic-style UI needed to change. I wanted to revisit the iOS guidelines and re-design the Sinergia app. Using Invision, I re-created the wireframes of Sinergia. I got rid of the neomorphic style and used a mixture of flat design and depth effects from Material Design.

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Visual design:

Sinergia means synergy in Italian. We wanted our brand to represent the energy and the cooperation of organizations working together to create the "energy community" of MilanoSesto. The dominant color used in the app is orange (#f76345 ), which represents energy. Subtle hints of blue (#13369a) contrast and bring calmness to the energetic color or orange.

Assessment

Planning

Reuse energy

View live prototype here

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