University of Bristol: Think power – Bristol researchers want households to imagine future energy systems

Funded by Bristol Digital Futures Institute, the Smart Lens project tackles the mystery behind the inner workings of fast-changing digital technologies being developed to manage our energy use.

In a series of illustrations, researchers across social sciences and computer sciences explain complex ideas to help shape the debate around smart energy futures. They aim to spark conversations around low carbon neighbourhoods, street-level microgrids, retrofitting Bristol’s Victorian terraces, smart battery rental, what new power grids might look like, developing flexible systems, trading energy and smart meters.

Research Associate at the University of Bristol’s Computer Science Department Dr Ola Michalec said: “To influence and shape our energy use we all need to become fluent in the language of emerging technologies.

“Digital technologies are tough to visualise and describe. Our project aims to help everyone contribute to the big debate about how we source and use energy in the future. I really want our images, created by local artist Oliver Dean to be shared and discussed so they are free to anyone to access.”

Bristol Digital Futures Institute funded five seedcorn projects, including the Smart Lens project, to kickstart ideas that will drive sociotechnical innovations.

BDFI Partnerships Manager Hayley Shaw added: “The Smart Lens project is an excellent example of how collaboration between computer science, social science and an artist can help put social issues at the heart of digital design. By funding small projects we hope that they get the start they need to turn into new major research programmes.”

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