Gamifying Green Driving with the GreenSpeed

A closeup view of the efficiency gauge on a Toyota Hybrid.

A closeup view of the efficiency gauge on a Toyota Hybrid.

My sister bought a new hybrid a few months ago, and she let me drive it when we went to visit my grandmother last June. In addition to the vehicle being deadly quiet, the feature that most caught my eye was the efficiency gauge that replaced the tachometer. Instead of letting me know how close I am to the redline (a fun game when you are punching it out of a green light from a full stop), her hybrid told me how efficiently I was driving. The gauge rewarded me the more conservatively I drove. Instead of trying to win as the fastest driver, I was now driving to win being the most green.

My car is ancient (a 2001 Mazda with battle scars from falling trees/the freeway/backing into things) and has no way to gamify driving green. So instead, I imagined an aftermarket device that would do for my Mazda what the efficiency gauge does for my sister’s hybrid.

Saving Gas with the GreenSpeed

Closeup view of the GreenSpeed.

Close up detail of the GreenSpeed. The 3 colored lights indicate the greenness of the vehicle’s acceleration, and an adhesive strip underneath makes it easy to install on the dashboard of most cars.

The function is simple. As you accelerate, the three lights indicate the greenness of your driving. Conservative acceleration equals a solid green light. As you press harder on the accelerator, the green light will start to flash and eventually change to yellow. Accelerate even faster, and the yellow light will start to flash and then switch to red. The device provides visual feedback on how hard you are accelerating, encouraging you to drive more conservatively. This will result in better gas mileage, savings at the pump, and ultimately, a greener, cleaner planet.

How the GreenSpeed Works

The layout of the GreenSpeed on a standard automobile.

How the GreenSpeed will be installed in most vehicles. A flat USB cable runs from the device to the cigarette lighter receptacle. A second USB port is included for charging other devices.

An internal accelerometer will determine how hard the car is accelerating. Nothing needs to plug into the car’s computer or engine. A small adhesive strip on the bottom of the device will allow you to attach it to your dashboard, near but not in your field of vision. Power is provided via a USB cable that runs to the cigarette charger in the center console of most cars. The cable will be flat so routing it along the console for a semi-permanent install will be easier. An additional USB slot is provided to allow easy charging of other devices.

The first generation will simply provide visual feedback on your acceleration. Later versions will be able to talk to your phone and track your gas mileage over time. All the efficiency data will be aggregated into a giant, online game (with the owner’s consent, of course) where we compete to be the greenest driver overall.

I am still looking for names. How does “The GreenSpeed” sound?