Location-awareness and power management

The Potential for Location-Aware Power Management by Harle and Hopper is an interesting paper presented at Ubicomp 2002 that explore the use of location-awareness to dynamically optimise the energy consumption of an office. It basically shows how capturing workers' location can be helpful in a different domain than mobile social software or urban computing. Location-aware power management (Figure taken from the paper: positions recorded for a particular user over four hours on a particular day across three floors)

The paper does not really describe an application, instead it demonstrates how an analysis of workers' location is relevant "to form a picture of how people work and what energy savings might reasonably be expected if we were able to prevent device ‘idling’". The authors link the discussion about "energy sinks" and workers' movement: is it possible to lower the power consumption of electrical devices when the users are not using them... by detecting whether the user is within range.

Of course, apart from the technological side, the main issue at stake in this kind of research vector is the following:

"we emphasise that any changes should not frustrate users. As an example, we informally asked a number of computer users in various commercial and non-commercial settings why they did not have their desktop machines automatically power down, suspend-to-disk, or go to sleep after a specified time. The majority cited the frustration of having to wait for the system to reach a usable state as a major contributing factor. We cannot afford, then, to assume that an aggressive power saving policy will necessarily lead to power savings since it may prove very unpopular and be circumvented. Instead workstations in the scheme discussed must be powered up and in a usable state before the user is physically upon them. "

Why do I blog this? home/office automation is an favorite topic of mine as it uncovers important issues regarding the loss of control from users. Of course, I find the use of location-awareness relevant in this sort of context and I am wondering about other way to deploy this sort of solution without frustrating users. The paper offers a good discussion concerning such issues.