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Eco Monsters

Eco Monsters provides a conceptual approach to addressing the problem of environmental protection as early as infancy. Equipped with various sensors, the little monster figures encourage environmentally friendly behaviour at home. An iPad app connects the monsters through an interactive story.

Design

Anastasia Bondarenko
Germany

The main problem associated with effectively managing resources at home is that they are always available. We therefore lack a deep understanding of their value and limits. While there are tools for visualising the resources we use, we need to dig deeper. We need a tool to teach careful environmental thinking when it comes to our daily use of resources at home. To turn around our handling of limited resources we need to find ways to influence environmental behaviour.

To generate an ongoing change in our behaviour, we need to find a didactical solution to teach patterns of behaviour. Children are still very flexible in terms of learning new things. They also have the greatest impact on our future. As digital natives they are open to imaginative and interactive worlds. The idea that drove Eco Monsters was to create an interactive game that connects real life with a digital game world. 

Eco Monsters is a resource-management system for children, which playfully teaches careful environmental behaviour. Four little monster figures, equipped with sensors and interactive features, help children with the handling of energy, water and waste. An iPad app connects the monsters with an interactive story and also provides knowledge about the resources. The interactions with the monsters in the physical world have a direct impact on the virtual game world.

Each of the Monsters is responsible for it’s own area at home. The Water Checker shows how much water is left for showering. The water level on its body visualises the limited amount of the water resource, which is usually hard to imagine while showering because of the constant flow of water.

The Air Blower coughs once its sensors recognise that fresh air is running low. It stops again only once the room is ventilated. The right ventilation not just prevents mould formation but also saves energy.

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The Power Muncher is a secure socket system. It consists of the monster and a socket extension. It lets children decide when and for how long they will consume energy. When plugged into the socket, electricity is visualised by LEDs inside the Power Muncher to make the flow of energy apparent for children. 

The Garbage Gobbler teaches the right handling of waste. It scans the barcode on the package using a small camera in its head. It recognises the kind of product and opens its mouth only for garbage that can be recycled.

The monsters connect via WiFi with an iPad app. In the app, the monsters experience an exciting adventure along with the child. Their friend the planet got sick and needs to be nursed back to health. Therefore, they need to feed him resources. They encourage the child to be greener in real life – for example by saving water while showering. Saved resources are transferred from real life into the game. Thus the sick planet is nursed back to health. 

So the environmental behaviour in real life affects the virtual game world and the story continues. Through the process of saving resources every day, the monsters influence long-term environmental behaviour and it becomes a habit for later on in life.

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