Percy

When my partner and I moved in together, sharing responsibility for chores didn't come naturally. It's not that we're irresponsible, we clean up after ourselves and if something has to be done, we'd do it. The problem was the chores you do so they don't mount up later, things like laundry, cleaning the bathroom, changing bed sheets, etc.

I started by searching for an app that could help us maintain a routine.

The solution would allow us to make tasks repeat with very specific criteria (eg. dust surfaces on the last Sunday of every month unless they've been dusted recently). It would also need to be collaborative – when I add something, my partner sees it, and when my partner marks something as complete, I see it's done.

I couldn't find the perfect app, so I gave up the search and developed a platform called Percy, named after the street we lived on at the time.

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

Percy improved life at home by keeping us on top of our responsibilities. But the platform required us to check it frequently and sometimes we'd forget to. So I started thinking of ways Percy could be present in our environment.

The solution already existed in the form of a lamp sitting on our living room bookshelf. I replaced the light inside the lamp with an energy-efficient, colour-changing bulb connected to our wifi network and, with undue confidence, changed 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.

Finally, 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.