Monday, May 26, 2008

Dashboard Feedback Helps Improve Gas Mileage

Source: "For Hybrid Drivers, Every Trip Is a Race for Fuel Efficiency" by Michael S. Rosenwald, The Washington Post, May 26, 2008.

The Prius effect, named after the Toyota hybrid with an elaborate dashboard monitor that constantly informs drivers how many miles per gallon they are getting, is making drivers conscious of their driving habits, then resulting in driver adjustments improve mileage; indeed drivers of Priuses now compete among themselves for better mileage.

The article states:
Tom Igoe, a physical-computing researcher at New York University, said the Prius mpg display is one of the best examples of technology "where green meets information systems."

"For a long time," he said, "we have known that people will change their habits if they are exposed to feedback in real time."

Now companies are introducing products that do for the home what the monitor in the Prius has done for the car. The Kill a Watt plugs into a wall and accepts plug-ins from appliances, showing exactly how much energy is being consumed. Sebastian recently bought one at a store in the District. "We want to know where our electricity is going," she said.
Comment: This is a nice example showing that when and where knowledge is made available can have a developmental impact, as well as the knowledge per se. We have long known ways to improve driving mileage, but having immediate visible information tends to encourage the application of that knowledge. JAD

No comments: