My thesis is in collaboration with Aalto Department of Design, Aalto University’s Aalto New Global (ANG) program and Boond Engineering. ANG is a multidisciplinary action research project that focuses on co-creating frugal innovation in complex global systems. Boond is a private energy social enterprise that designs and produces solar-powered electricity products and services for energy-deprived regions of India. The topic of my research is Boond’s “prepaid” electricity service (pay-per-use) and how customers in four rural Indian villages relate to and interact with the smart meters in their home.

I recently conducted design research in Uttar Pradesh State in northern India. The main objective of the research was to gain a better understanding of the daily lives of Boond’s customers and their relationship to Boond’s electricity service, in order to inform design improvements to the meters and service experience. I spent 10 days in the field, interviewing and observing people in their homes, analysing data and making and testing quick prototypes.

With the generous support of ANG and my thesis advisor, I designed and planned the research methodology, sourced and hired in-country research assistance and led the research activities. The rewards of this challenging work included deep insights into the decision-making process around electricity and energy consumption and interaction with the metering devices.

My thesis work continues with extensive analysis of field data and ideation inspired by the resulting insights.