HomeCamp 3 – hacking for smart homes, smart energy, and free beer

We had big plans for HomeCamp in 2010, but facts seem to have got in the way. What with Chris joining CurrentCost, and my wife and I having a second child- we didn’t have as much time to apply to the event as it deserved, or the community for that matter. Which is why I am very pleased to announce that we will be homecamping in London on December 13th from 4pm onwards.

We have some great presentations planned, from the likes of AMEE, and IBM.

That’s right. IBM in the home? Surely some mistake? Not so- Andy Piper will be coming along to tell us more about how hackers are using lightweight messaging technology from IBM in all sorts of sustainability/home hacking apps. Given I had my doubts IBM would really go after a pervasive, volume market, led by developers, I am really looking forward to this one…Dave Bartlett from IBM likes to say A Smarter Planet begins with A Smarter Building. Well, perhaps sustainability begins at home. Maybe Andy can tell us how a Smarter Planet begins with a Smarter Home.

But more importantly than great speakers is a nice venue to hang out, catch up on all things homecampy, and drink some beers. Extra special thanks to one of the stalwarts of the homecamp community- Mike Beardmore – for sorting out the venue.

So if you’re interested in home automation protocols and standards, demand response, energy management, the future of smart grids, the role of hackers and alpha geeks as leading indicators for emerging markets, and so on, then HomeCamp is the place to come – you can sign up here. We’d love to see you.


GreenWave Reality’s new Energy Management Platform

GreenWave Reality portal screen shot

GreenWave Reality are an energy management company who came out of stealth last week to announce they had just landed an $11m equity round and to announce its new Energy Management Platform (although EMP is an unfortunate acronym in this context!).

The company’s executive team is made up mostly of former execs of Cisco’s Consumer Business Group – so not only have they worked closely, successfully in the past, they also have experience producing consumer electronics and its advisory board reads like a who’s who of the CE industry.

So what does GreenWave Reality’s Energy Management Platform actually consist of?

GreenWave Reality Power Node

GreenWave Reality Power Node

Well, at its most simple, it is a home area network containing:

  • smart plugs (power nodes) which are accessible wirelessly
  • a gateway which communicates wirelessly with the power nodes (and in time with smart LEDs, EV’s, etc.), with your utility, and with GreenWave’s data center and
  • a highly configurable wireless display which not just reports on energy consumption, but can also control connected devices in the home

GreenWave see utility companies as the customers for their platform, with the utilities distributing the products to their residential consumers. With retail utility companies under increasing pressure to reduce their emissions, products like this are bound to pique their interest.

The fact that the data from GreenWave’s Gateway product is transmitted back to GreenWave’s data center enables GreenWave to provide access to a home energy portal for consumers via the Internet. In this way, connected appliances are controllable, not just from the in-home wireless display, but from anywhere with Internet access, even a smart phone. Perfect for those times when you are out and wondering if you remembered to turn off the lights/TV/whatever!

On the flipside, this raises obvious privacy issues I’d like to see addressed via a Privacy Policy page on the GreenWave site, at the very least.

This will also enable home-owners to compare their energy use with the average use for others in their area to see whether they are energy hogs, or Greener than their average neighbour.

GreenWave is going the standards only route (ZigBee, ZWave, etc) so if consumers have already invested in (or are thinking of buying) devices which use these protocols, they’ll be readily accessible on the platform.

Finally, Speaking to GreenMonk ahead of the company?s launch GreenWave told us that they are launching a Smart dimmable LED light later this year which as well as being extremely energy efficient, will have a built-in transceiver so that it can be fully controlled by the company’s Energy Management Platform.

I have to say, having spoken to the guys in GreenWave, it does seem like these guys have their ducks in a row. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one plays out.

You should follow me on twitter here.


Grid Watch: smartgrids meet smartcomms

New Meter

We have pointed to the ongoing convergence of wireless communications and smart grids before, for example in this video about Tropos Networks and in Tom’s stump pitch on sustainability and mobility, but some news from this week throws the trend into stark relief.

Carbon Trust investments, the VC arm of a non-profit organisation working to lower the UK’s carbon emissions just announced it is to invest in a network management company called Arieso.

Why would Carbon Trust do that? After all, what does mobile network optimisation have to do with energy management? According to the newenergyworldnetwork story:

Rachael Nutter of CT Investment Partners said, ?Energy consumption in mobile phone base stations is a significant proportion of the opex of mobile operators, as high as 50 per cent in the most extreme cases.

That’s the thing about sustainability – it doesn’t need to be seen as a cost center… rather it can, and should be, part of optimisation activities. Lower carbon, lower energy, cheaper mobile roll-outs. What’s not to like?

If you’ve been following GreenMonk for a while you should know we’re wedded to bottom up sustainability approaches – “from the roots up” as we call it, which is one reason we’ve sponsored, and contributed to the awesome UK HomeCamp community, founded by Chris Dalby, who now works at UK smartmeter firm Current Cost. Seems things are moving along there too.

One of the key players attempting to drive home automation as an activity for “civilians” is ZigBee. It just started working with GreenPeak, which specialises in ultra low power mobile silicon chips, designed to be used in battery-free devices. [See a theme emerging? ;-)] No batteries isn’t just a lower carbon play though- it also means less heavy metals and toxic chemicals. What’s the news? GreenPeak is now Zigbee compliant.

Finally some smart grid news.

Swiss smart meter player just took $165m in new funding.

Could be smart timing.

The Climate Group, sponsored by GE, Google, HP, Intel, Nokia and others? just called on Barack Obama to adopt a goal of providing every household with real time information about their electricity use.

Meanwhile last week Microsoft hohm and Ford announced they are working together on home energy to Electric Vehicle management and integration, to help people that own these EVs charge them cost effectively. Its worth pointing to one of my favourite GreenMonk interviews in that light- we talk to Greg Frenette of Ford about EV smart grid convergence.

It really is time to run the first HomeCamp US!

Ironically enough, when I searched for a creativecommons attribution only shot of a smartmeter i found one from my colleague Michael Cot? in Austin. His utility called it a smartmeter, but unless he? has access to the data generated I don’t see how it deserves the name. But that’s a subject for a different blog, and indeed a line of Greenmonk research.

The really keen eyed among you may have noticed how many of the links above come from newnet news. No accident. I love the feed. Its like a shot of good news tequila every morning – something to warm your spirits.


April 13th GreenMonk Energy and Sustainability show

Here is a recording of today’s GreenMonk Energy and Sustainability show complete with the chatstream below:

04:31 TomRaftery : About to kick off
04:32 TomRaftery : Can you see & hear me ok?
04:33 TomRaftery : Hello?
04:33 ustreamer-36203 : Hi Tom
04:33 ustreamer-36203 : Andrew Newton of APEsphere here
04:34 ustreamer-36203 : yep, all good
04:35 ustreamer-39040 : I can see and hear ya. Just have to log in – This is Suki
04:37 TomRaftery :
04:37 ustreamer-13870 : Den here..
04:37 ustreamer-13870 : Ola todos
04:39 TomRaftery :
04:40 TomRaftery :
04:43 ustreamer-13870 : Wonder if SAP will try doing the same thing as MSFT?
04:44 TomRaftery :
04:44 Suki_Fuller : I’ve gotten sucked into the Zigbee newsletter – liking this thing
04:46 ustreamer-13870 : RyanAir are the world’s worst airline IMO
04:47 Suki_Fuller : Nah – Delta
04:47 ustreamer-13870 : It’s a flying shopping mall
04:47 TomRaftery :
04:48 ustreamer-13870 : I will do almost anything to avoid flying RyanAir (anyhooo – good for them in dropping prices)
04:50 TomRaftery :
04:51 TomRaftery :
04:55 Suki_Fuller : They seem to be going backwards in all regards apparently
04:55 ustreamer-36203 : Another Amazon CSR blinder from today:
04:55 TomRaftery :
04:55 Suki_Fuller : That better be tap water
04:57 TomRaftery :
04:57 TomRaftery :
04:59 TomRaftery :
05:05 TomRaftery :
05:07 TomRaftery : Anyone anything else to talk about?
05:07 Suki_Fuller : Us UK people over here had to get up.
05:07 Suki_Fuller : In US
05:07 Suki_Fuller : UK people in US
05:08 Suki_Fuller : Thank you Tom as always learned much
05:08 TomRaftery : Over and out – thanks everyone for a great show
05:09 TomRaftery : Thank you Suki