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June 15, 2012
Team creates phone app that tracks energy usage and customizes energy reports
In one of her final projects as a CIA Biomedical Art student, Patty Ni was part of the team behind Budget It Yourself, a phone app that placed second in a U.S. Department of Energy competition.
The contest, called Apps for Energy, was aimed at sparking new technologies for connecting consumers to how much energy they use.
Ni, who graduated from CIA in May, worked with programmers Bryan Marty and Robert Karam from Case Western Reserve University's (CWRU) School of Engineering to create Budget It Yourself, an app that would make it easy for consumers to track home-energy information and tune in to real time information on consumption.
The app supports the government's 2011 Green Button initiative, which created an open standard for sharing utility data.
BIY took second place in the Student portion of the DOE's Apps for Energy Green Button competition. Ni and her partners won $7,500.
"The idea is to make getting your energy usage data as easy as pressing a button," said Ni. She designed the look of the app, the website and an explanatory video. Marty and Karam created the programming that allows consumer to use the app to connect to their utility companies with an eye toward conservation.
"If you have this app on your phone, and the company you get energy from has already set up everything — installed "smart meters," updated their websites, etc. — you could log in, download the file from their website, load it in our app, and see the data in a few ways," Karam said. "For example, you could look up how much energy you used from noon to 1 p.m. on a hot day with your AC on versus that same time period the next day when it was cooler, and the AC was off, and get an idea about how much it's costing you."
As consumers add more data, the app tracks information in terms of day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year usage, he added.
Learn more about the DOE competition and see Budget It Yourself and a gallery of the contest winners' apps.
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