For the 2007 Microsoft StartSomthing PC design competition I created a new device for monitoring energy use in the house. The Energy Tree monitors all devices in the home, and monitor recycling efficiently. This concept was picked as on of the 34 finalists and will find out on the 15th May 2007 if it was ‘the’ winning concept.

Energy monitors are going to become a lot more common with the British Government giving them away to every house hold so house owners can know how much energy the are using.

What is the Energy Tree?

The EnergyTree is a device dedicated to monitoring your household energy use. It monitors you energy output from sockets and any device that is using electricity. It also monitors Recycling, and recycling efficiency as sustainable design is about “cradle to cradle” and not just about using less.

The Energy Tree will have a user interface that will display information on you energy consumption letting you know what devices are draining and will give you the option to turn them off. As a long term interface the EnergyTree will grow a real tree from the EnergyTree, this will grow if you are energy efficient, but waste energy and it will start to get a disease and or die.

Download PDF Overview 6Mb PDF](PDF/EnergyTree.pdf)

“This concept is crazy, it will never work!”

Some of the blog comments have mentioned that these sort of concepts are too blue sky to be possible. This isn’t true, all of these technology exists and even though there would need to be a lot of R&D to get this product into production everything exists.

  1. A tree, Isn’t that too big?
    Ever heard of a bonsai? The Tree, or plant its self would be one of the hardest parts of getting this product to work, as it would need to be a variety that would work well inside and that would be able to grow or deform visibly. The Tree is meant to be a long term user interface, so you should expect to see changes in a couple of months.

  2. **How would Recycling bins know what was in them? **
    With recent growth in microscopic RFIDS, I envisage that every plastic will be embedded with an RFID that would communicate with the recycling bin. This would make the differation between plastics seamless allowing for a higher grade of recycled plastic. As it will all be made from the same material.

  3. **How would it know energy draw, and how would it turn it off?
    **There are already devices such as Kill-A-Watt, the energy tree will just take it one step further where you would we able to control, and turn these off with the energy tree. Unlike home automation systems, the energy tree would offer a low cost monitoring and control system.

Where can I find information for the Press?

After being posted on the big blog’s, Engadget, Gizmodo, crave.cnet.com yankodesign.com and various others. I have had a lot of requests for Press images and currently I’m going to be featured in Kijk magazine (DE), Next Magazine (HK), The Sharp Edge magazine (UK).

I have created a press release if you would like to publish anything about the EnergyTree. You can

Download Press Release < here.

If you do publish my work, please let me know, and I would love to have a copy. If you do write up about me, please let me know!

When can I find out more about Energy Tree and Ben Arent?

Just keep an eye on my RSS feed