IM Power Research Project

Distributed Mentor Project - Summer 2007

The IM Power Project is a subset of the Footprints Project that was started by Professor Mankoff (my mentor), as well as others, to make users aware of their carbon emissions, or "footprint" on the ecosystem, and how their behavior can change based on which knowledge and options are given to them. The IM Power Project specifically monitors users with a laptop, logging how much idle time they have per day. The goal is to make those users aware of their "footprint" based on how much idle time they have. Excess idle time translates to excess carbon emissions. So far, we have discussed ways of lessening idle time, or how to prevent it. Examples would be to shut off the computer, put it in standby/sleep mode, etc. We also want find patterns of why users would let their laptops go idle. Examples would be downloading/watching media, listening to music, etc.

For this project, we are going to create a chat bot using the AIM SDK, and programming it in Java. The bot will log user idle time, other status changes, and conversations to start out with. Later on, the bot may be implemented to calculate a user's total idle time in a day, and successfully portray that information to the user. The method for deployment has yet to be determined.

Update (7/13/07): The study was extended to desktop users when our findings showed that the impact of idle time was greater in these types of users. Our feedback device is now going to be a settup consisting of a CPU monitor and a window displaying the result of the behavorial change suggestions. We have not yet determined if the suggestions will be written on a personal basis, or if we will have a pool of default/generic suggestions.

Update (8/10/07): The second phase of the study will consist of three groups. One group will receive no feedback suggestions, another group will receive suggestions generated randomly from a pool of generic suggestions, and the last group will receive more personalized suggestions based on baseline data acquired during the first week of the study. All groups will receive feedback data of how much idle time costs they have accumulated during the study.

Related Work: As stated before, the IM Power Project is a subset of the Footprints Project, which is also run by Professor Mankoff. Her current research interests are in the feedback given to people around the world in order to change their lifestyles to become more "green". The term "green" is used quite frequently in today's media as a way of minimizing the amount of carbon emissions going into the environment. The Footprints Project is currently researching the types of feedback devices that can be displayed on MySpace, Facebook, and other popular personal websites. These devices will show the user the amount of carbon they produce now, how much they produce over a certains period of time, and ways to reduce that amount of carbon. There are also fun add-ons such as comparing your savings to that of your friends. The idea is to make the devices as user friendly and as interesting as possible for an overall enjoyable experience. The IM Power Project was a way of testing some feedback devices that were more permanent on a user's screen on a 24/7 basis as long as the machine was turned on. These other devices for the Footprints Project are more controllable and customizable for each user, and they can view it at their own conveniences. The need to research better technology to make the world "green" is something that Professor Mankoff is very passionate about.

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