Change consumer behaviour

We want to develop new devices and products that would help consumers use the world's resources more sustainably. Do you have an approach that could change consumer behaviour?

The challenge

Lifestyles in the developed world have been based for a century on relatively low-cost power generation and access to fossil fuel. But the world is changing, and as greater numbers of people worldwide seek the benefits previously enjoyed by those in developed economies, the impact on the environment will only be sustainable if consumers everywhere adapt their behaviour.

Providing consumers with devices that help them make sustainable decisions could play a vital role – by helping to ensure they use the right amount of water, heat and detergent for every clothes wash, for example, or prompting them to boil only the water they need for a cup of tea.

We think devices like these could make a big difference – so we'd like to work with partners in open innovation who could help us develop them.

What we're looking for

We're looking for ingenious devices, technologies or design breakthroughs that could help consumers become more environmentally conscious, or help them make more sustainable choices about their behaviour. These could improve:

  • Water usage: in the US, average domestic water usage is 550 litres per day, compared to 90 litres in China. We are looking for devices that save water in the bathroom, kitchen or garden.

  • The use of energy to regulate temperature: heating or cooling air and water consumes massive amounts of energy. We are looking for devices that reduce the energy consumers use to make tea, shower, or wash up.

  • Electricity usage: many electrical appliances in homes are 'instant on', which means that electricity is flowing even when they are off. We are looking for devices that control this flow, or give consumers better information about their electricity usage, to help reduce energy consumption.

What we're thinking

There are a range of areas that we are already exploring – and where we'd welcome approaches from partners with technical solutions of their own. These include:

  • Add-on devices that control water flow, for example improved shower heads.

  • Water heaters that heat on demand at the kitchen sink, shower timers, devices that deliver specific portions of hot water (eg for one cup of tea), and more sensitive thermostats.

  • Devices that report electricity usage, for example through home computers, or control flow to 'instant on' equipment, for example through the use of timers.

What we need

We're open to working with partners who can help with the solutions we're already considering – or who have a technical solution we haven't thought of at all. But any solution must meet some key requirements:

  • Cost effectiveness. Any energy-saving device should produce savings for consumers that outweigh the initial cost, ideally with a short payback period.

  • Effectiveness. We're only interested in devices that will actually change consumer behaviour, and we'd like to see the results of tests and studies of any potential collaboration.

  • Proprietary. To make commercial sense, any proposals are likely to be patented or suitable for patenting.

Could you help us create a better future?

If you have a design or technical solution that could help us meet this challenge, we'd like to hear from you.

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