Endaprime by BKW
The energy landscape of tomorrow
Switzerland's energy system is undergoing a radical change. Energy is increasingly being generated by decentralized facilities that produce electricity irregularly in some cases, making planning and operation a growing challenge. To meet this challenge Endaprime, the innovation lab of BKW, came to us with a visionary sketch in their hand: HIVE – a digital simulator that should demonstrate the impact of electromobility, renewable energies, and the application of local measures on the distribution system, energy self-sufficiency, and environmental pollution.
To present the multi-layered interrelationships within complex systems as comprehensibly as possible to the user, we worked closely with Endaprime and turned their idea into an easy-to-use, compelling working tool for political and business actors.
Making expert knowledge understandable
At the beginning of our collaboration, HIVE was just a brilliant idea, captured on a visionary sketch. Our joint task was to bring this sketch to life and find the best solution for how the simulator should work and look, making it as simple, attractive, and straightforward as possible for the user. The biggest sticking point was to reduce the complexity and bring in playful elements without losing the credibility and reliability of an expert.
“Our main challenge was to create a tool that is fun to use, but still reflects the complexity and importance of the topic.”
An immersive learning experience
The result is an interface that creates a challenging, immersive learning environment for users by inviting them to play an active role and embark on a journey of discovery. The interface consists of three main areas:
The side panel to set scenario parameters
The map to visualize scenarios
KPIs and graphs to more deeply understand scenarios
Setting the parameters is the start of a journey with an unknown destination. With each change of a parameter the map changes accordingly. Users begin to understand how the expansion of renewable energies and the growing number of decentralized energy production can affect the future of distribution, autarky, and the environment.
“Ginetta worked efficiently and in a structured manner, while still creating space for inventiveness and creativity.”
The side panel:
Setting scenario parameters
The initial idea of our client was to design a playful drag-and-drop panel for users to set parameters. After the first iteration and user testing, we decided to go for a less playful but more efficient solution for the use case: the side panel. The side panel consists of sliders, each representing a parameter and displaying carefully selected units. In addition to selecting a municipality, users can set seven more parameters that are logically grouped and divided into three different colored sections. Depending on the parameter settings, the future scenario visualized on the map changes interactively.
By (re)setting parameters in the side panel, users can (re)design the map and the energy system of the selected municipality. The energy cells react immediately to each setting and visualize the local system and energy flow. This is based on intelligent algorithms that regulate the energy balance between the cells. To represent different local production plants, such as wind turbines, we used icons. If there is not enough energy produced locally to meet the demand, the system imports energy from the outside, illustrated on the map through motion design in the form of a wave.
KPIs and graphs:
For a deeper understanding of the map, users need one thing: data. Lots of data! To help users not get lost, we display the most important data with two graphs and five KPIs. The KPIs are displayed in large, bold numbers with short explanatory texts to put them in the right context. Useful feature: By hovering to any point on the graph a tooltip opens with detailed data.
Shaping the future of energy
Interactive elements are successful in imparting the "watch-try-do" learning experience. But only if they serve usability and are not just integrated as an additional fun factor. We followed this principle with great success when designing HIVE: The simulator simplifies access to a complex topic in a "playful" way without losing clarity and credibility. Since its launch, HIVE has been delighting its users and attracting ever greater interest from the political and business communities. This has allowed Endaprime to position itself as a pioneer and thought leader in shaping the future of the Swiss energy landscape.
Technology & Engineering