Percy

Sharing responsibility for chores didn't come naturally to my partner and I when we moved in together. It's not that we're people, we cleaned up after ourselves and if something had to be done, it was done. It's the chores you do so they don't mount up later, things like laundry, cleaning the bathroom, changing bed sheets.

My partner and I searched for an app that could help us develop a routine, but we couldn't find the right fit.

We needed an app that would allow up to make tasks repeat with specific criteria (eg. dust surfaces on the last Sunday of every month unless they've been dusted recently). The app would also need to collaborative in nature – when I add something, my partner sees it, and when my partner marks something as complete, I see it's done.

I gave up the search and developed a platform to perfectly fit our requirements. Percy was named for the street we lived on at the time.

My partner and I add chores to Percy, set a day for them to be completed by and choose whether they're one-off or should repeat. Repeating tasks reappear after a predetermined amount of time, for example, 'take out the trash' appears every Sunday unless the Sunday is a public holiday.

Percy was working, it was improving homelife by keeping us on top of our responsibilities. But this solution required us to check an app, sometimes we'd forget and overlook (or ignore) the notifications. I started thinking of ways Percy could be present in our environment to encourage us to stay on top of chores.

The solution already existed in the form of a bookshelf lamp I had bought recently – the Book Rest Lamp by Suck UK. I replaced the light inside the lamp with an energy-efficient, colour changing bulb connected to our wifi network and, with undue confidence, changed some settings in our router to connect the bulb to the internet.

The light is turned on by Percy at 3pm and turned off at 12am every day. If there are no overdue chores on Percy, the light is white (matching other light sources in the room) and red if there are overdue chores. The light updates instantly when all chores are marked complete or a chore becomes overdue.

Lastly, I wanted to integrate Percy with the smart speakers in our home. We use Homepods, so we're limited by Siri's lack of support for third-party apps. As a workaround, I developed a live calendar with the chores set as all-day events for the day they are due. Once we added the calendar to our phones, we could ask Siri what was in the calendar and alongside our normal calendar events, Siri would list the chores on Percy.

In the future, I hope to develop an Alexa skill that lists the chores, allows us to mark them as complete and add additional chores.