We want the application to be as user-friendly as possible to ease the learning process of the users while incorporating the most advanced smart home technology, aiming to solve the problems regarding the usage of electricity in users' households.
What it does
- Remote Control Smart home technologies will be integrated into the app so that users can control the on and off of electricity at home without being physically at home.
- Multiple Houses The user could link multiple houses he/she owns to the account.
- Multiple Users One household could have several users. The household's owner/initiator can add/invite household members to join.
- Login Methods Have fingerprint login, facial recognition login features, two-factor authentication
- Cost Estimation & Budget Control The user can pre-set the dollar amount of monthly energy the household would use to demonstrate the user’s budget limit. Also, the user can generally describe the household: enter the number of people in the household, the size of the house, the number of bathrooms, the number of bedrooms, and the number of living rooms, etc. The app would give an estimated monthly electricity consumption for this kind of household both in the form of dollar amount and kilowatt-hours based on the information stored in Dominion Energy’s database. Once the current usage of electricity approaches the set limit or based on the average daily electricity usage pattern, it is likely that the user would exceed the limit, the app would give an alert and ask the user if he/she wants to switch the mode to electricity-saving mode.
- Electricity Usage Distribution On the main page, there are fragments around the bubble to demonstrate the percentage of electricity use for different categories.
- Different Modes
- Electricity-saving mode: there would be a recommended electricity-saving mode provided by the app----display how much carbon you would save.
- Special Weather mode (When special weather is approaching, the application will give a warning about it and offer suggestions, or just ask the user if he/she wants to switch to special-weather mode):
- Hurricane mode
- Flood mode
- Earthquake mode
- Customized: Besides the available modes offered by the application, the user could change the options and save it as a customized mode for future use.
- Solar If the household has access to solar panels, the user could connect to that and improve the usage.
- Monthly Report There will be a monthly report from Dominion Energy to allow users to see the electricity usage in different categories and include abnormal electrical behaviors at your house such as frequent electrical surges, sags and dips in power, and frequent circuit breaker tripping. Give suggestions on how to solve the problem, such as replacing damaged wires or circuits.
- Payment Users can pay their electric bills on the app by using Apple Pay/Samsung Pay/ Google Pay/Amazon Pay/PayPal/Credit or Debit Card. The app could also split the bills to allow members in the household to pay the bills separately.
- Energy Usage Categories The energy usage can be divided into different categories based on where the consumption of energy happen in the household
- Categorized by areas in the house: in the living room, bedroom, kitchen, etc.
- Categorized by activities in the house: light, televisions, computers, wifi, charging electronics, charging electric cars, etc.
- Live Chat There is a tab on the main function page through which users can live chat with the customer service agent 24/7.
- Error Detection/Analysis The application that allows users to let the internalized smart home system to detect and analyze the reasons why electricity problems happen, also that tab has the function to identify electrical devices that may be causing power surges and can suggest users turn those off.
Examples of problems identified:
- Faulty appliance
- Bad electrical wiring in the house
- Damage of power lines
- Auto-generated Report After tapping the error detection and analysis, if the user wants to report the problem to Dominion Energy’s customer service when the user clicks the report tab on the main page, the report will be generated automatically, which would include the symptoms and the analysis report. Also, the user can edit on the report.
- Safety Has a section that has safety tips on how to use electricity safely for users to browse.
How we built it
First, we thought about the features we wanted to include in our app and came up with the basic layout of the interface. Later, we wrote code to build an Android app and constructed web application as well as a mock-up of an iOS application. We also wrote commands to allow the interaction between the smart speaker and the application. In addition, we evaluated the project and iterated the design and analyze phases.
Challenges we ran into
Due to unfamiliarity with some of the software we are using and lack of coding experience of the team members, we had some difficulty implementing some functions.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We have built a Login page using Android app, an iOS Mock-up app, a web application, and incorporated Google cloud platform in our project. Moreover, we have included many features that are well-considerate and practical. The app values user experience, so we believe that this app will be well-accepted by the users.
What we learned
We learned a lot of new techniques and tools that could be used for building an app. In addition, we gained a deeper understanding in the energy sector and the problems households frequently encounter.
What's next for Dominion Energy App
As technology develops, the Dominion Energy App could incorporate more advanced technology. Also, after getting feedback from users, we can improve the performances of the app and let it be more user-oriented.