Green heat

Problem Statement

My objective was to reduce energy use in a studio setting by eliminating the need for steam radiators in buildings while providing a personalized ventilation experience. Steam radiators, which provide uniform heating that people in the room often have no control over, are ineffective and depersonalizing in their approach to solving the problem of providing adequate heat.

Green Heat is a concept for a smart, sustainable, and personalized heating system which physicalizes the energy a person uses, making electricity a more tangible, resource.

Questions I addressed:

  • What are ways to make people aware of an invisible resource?

  • What are effective ways to "Wizard of Oz" prototype?

  • What is necessary for a user to control, versus what should be automated?

  • How can a designer create separate distinct environments in close proximity?


Concept for Green Heat

the Invisibility of heating and energy

People only become aware of the heat from steam radiators when they make adjustments to themselves or to their environment. Due to the heating of a room being controlled by an external power, people form their own relationships with the invisible resources of heat and energy through opening the window or wearing more clothes.

Physically connecting heating and the energy used to power steam radiators to the user was a high priority in order to improve awareness. The PEM system didn't have that tangible connection, so I combined the principles behind Pedal Power and the KTOR Power Box in order to balance the physical and digital aspects of Green Heat.

Green Heat Proof of Concept

In applying the Wizard of Oz principles to my concept, I made sure to create enough of the system in order to demonstrate necessary interactions, but faked many of the features in order to save time. Also, leaving out some design concerns, such as how the system would adapt to different heights of users, is an effective way to present a concept.

The user can easily control how hard they are pedaling; when working under the assumption that pedaling is necessary to keep warm, the amount of effort a person will need to expend balances itself without guidance from the system. This indirect form of control is the appropriate choice in this instance, as the Green Heat system will fail if it requires a large degree of user interaction.

In order to ensure freedom of movement for the user, the heating pad would utilize wireless electricity. The pad itself would be charged by a magnetic field which is also powered by the pedal generator under the table.

Green Heat App

The user can control the temperature of their work space by altering how hot or cold the overall system will be; the change in distribution of human produced watts delivered to the fan and heating pad is automated. Much of temperature is perceived qualitatively, so removing choice and leaving the quantitative process of distributing energy to the Green Heat artificial intelligence reduces user stress.

The overall conclusion I reached through this sketch was that my goal should be to create a user controlled environment with minimal effort. Remembering that people don't want to expend effort for a resource that was originally effortless was a strong guiding force in avoiding extra features to add to the Green Heat system and app.


With each user having their own personal heating system, the temperature they experience will be more consistent and pleasurable. The system itself primarily functions through the body of the user, thus allowing such separate environments even in close proximity.

What I learned:

  • How to innovate through adding to current technology

  • Methods to consider the full experience of a user (kinesthesia, sweating)

  • How to decide how much control a user should have in a situation

  • Effective ways to tell the story of a concept



My servo motors were controlled via a mouse, the face tracking technology shown in the video utilized "Wizard of Oz" prototyping.

Demonstration of Arduino Technology

Crank Voltage proof of concept

If the crank was placed underneath a desk, with both legs pedaling, the voltage necessary to power the heat system could be easily produced. The user will likely not even need to generate over 10 volts as their leg movement will produce natural heat.