The final prototype is a stationary bicycle, equipped with a 4.5-minute iPad interactive animation. The instructions direct the learner to pedal while completing simple tasks of choosing a form of transportation for a friend “Pierre” and pedaling enough to get to the park. The rpm’s are measured via a mechanical sensor, converted a digital number, then calculated as a quantity of energy in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The kilowatt-hours are the input for determining the size of the graphical cube shown on the iPad, one-third of the way through the interactive. From there, the personalized and unique cube acts as a standard of comparison for additional comparisons made between the energy consumed via pedaling, the energy consumed from Pierre’s choice of transportation, and the energy consumption of common household items and devices.
A few components are critical to this design:
- The project attempts to explain energy and energy comparisons through a graphical representation of the person’s energy production — via the effort-filled action of pedaling. This becomes an embodied unit, tied directly and uniquely to the person’s exertion where effort is now represented in a non-abstract way.
- It utilizes scale. The graphical cube is a standard of comparison, and everything is scaled to it. Someone else’s cube might be bigger; other appliances might requires 3-700 times the number of cubes.
- The design is meant for a public audience, located in parks or on sidewalks. It invites the general public to take part, in a fun, non-intimidating way, in learning and developing interest in science and energy.
The actual design includes 4 parts:
- the tangible bicycle and associated pedaling (for affective purposes of exerting effort — and feeling it!)
- the digital iPad interactive animation and display (for purposes of comparing energy consumption and creating relations of scale)
- stickers (for connecting learners to the website)
- website (for increased learning and maintained interest)
Preliminary design ideas and prototypes included:
- two (or more) bikes, allowing for interactivity between learners and screens
- a goal towards collective action — to input enough human power to help operate a local corner store or light the park’s basketball courts
- a goal of understanding kilowatt-hours, the law of conservation of energy, and the varying CO2 outputs of differing energy sources
- relevancy to one’s household electric bill
These prototypes, ideas, and iterations were critical in helping develop the idea and more important, focus it. They still exist as potential additions and details for the future.