EDF "SMACH" simulation tool

Experience and graphic design


EDF is one of the world’s largest electric utility companies specializing in all areas, from production, transport and distribution to engineering, optimization and trading. In 2011, the company counted 156,168 employees and 37,7 million clients worldwide, with €72,7 billion in revenues in 2012.

Among the research work led by its R&D department, SMACH (Multi-Agent Simulation of Human behavior) depicts the behaviors of household inhabitants on a defined period while allowing people to interact.


The tool was originally used by researchers and engineers only, but was to be placed in the hands of general public to study their energy consumption habits. It was hence necessary to rework the interface in order to:

  • Allow people to project themselves in a realistic manner
  • Make participation, that is to say interaction between testers, easy
  • Allow interface modularity to be able to test different setup


Our design team created the Information Architecture and the interaction principles so that a great amount of information could be consistently put into the same screen. They gave priority to a subjective point of view and representations with the right level of realism. They also accentuated the link between participant actions and their effects on the environment and the other household members. The technical choices we made ensured the compatibility with the simulation engine while offering a better visual rendering and allowing future interface evolutions interface.


The close collaboration between af83 and EDF R&D teams, thanks to co-design workshops, ensured that the interface was in line with the project goals: an attractive and smooth interface for the general public, modular screens so the researchers can easily modify all the simulation components.


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