07 September 2010

Microsoft's Hohm, user reviewed

Ars Technica has a detailed review of the installation and use of Hohm domestic power monitor (more info and photos also at CNET). The system monitors electricity consumption using a retro-fit meter (fitting the meter, see CNET photo, above, not for the faint-hearted) and real time display. It can also take in gas consumption figures, direct from the household gas supplier, to the associated web application (again, quite a complicated set up process).

Some interesting conclusions: for this reviewer, using the real time display was more appealing than the analytics available on the web (although, since that shows gas consumption, it's likely to provide the greatest opportunity for considering savings). The display had some interesting functionality for rapid feedback: being able to 'zero' the background power consumption, then see the difference when a new appliance is connected; the capacity to show consumption as cost per hour, and to project a monthly bill, rather than KWh. Saving money seemed to be the key motivator for the reviewer, and I suspect for the majority of users (lovely account of reviewer's friend using a fuel monitor in his car and altering his driving behaviour to 'beat' his previous consumption - monitoring to that extent may not be great for safe driver performance).

What strikes me about this and other reviews is their focus on the novel experience rather than the embedded experience of monitoring consumption over time.  Rob Waller commented recently on stopping looking at his domestic monitor after week 3. We may have products, but not yet, perhaps, a durable consumer experience.

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