Recently, I had the opportunity to do a little research on some of the activity around Home Energy Management systems and the Home Area Network. I was surprised to discover how much activity there is in pursuit of a market that is still in the incubation phase. In the market research report "Smart Grid 2010" by GTM Research, it is recognized that today this technology is in the pilot stage. The report goes on to project that by 2015 Consumer Energy Management Systems will be "gaining traction as 'set-it-and-forget' technologies make energy management simple to use and cost-effective," and by 2020 the technology will be "routine."
Pike Research forecasts that 14.4 million units of home energy management display devices will be shipped by 2015. Web-based dashboards will also be a major category with 11.1 million users, followed by mobile phone energy applications with 2.6 million users. This could explain the interest in this area by start-ups and brand name players alike.
Beyond some of the interesting start-ups such as Tendril (www.tendrilinc.com), Gridpoint (www.gridpoint.com), Gainspan (www.gainspan.com) and Powerhouse Dynamics (www.powerhousedynamics.com), Google has launched its Google Powermeter (http://bit.ly/cGs6Kn) and Microsoft has announced its "Hohm" Home Energy Management System (http://bit.ly/wSFxx).
Two additional players whose activities demonstrate their interest in this market are Intel and Apple.
Intel has published its Intelligent Home Energy Management Proof of Concept - http://bit.ly/93lTut. The system is compatible with the ZigBee Smart Energy standard. ZigBee Smart Energy offers easy-to-use wireless home area networks (HAN) for managing energy, and provides customers the power to directly communicate with thermostats and other smart appliances (www.zigbee.org). Intel also recently announced a "smart energy sensor that plugs into any outlet and is able to learn the electronic signatures of household appliances on a circuit. After turning each household device on and off three times, software algorithms are able to detect the electronic fingerprint of each device. That means homeowners can track and monitor their appliances' energy usage without having to install or retrofit hardware. " http://bit.ly/b4OK4D
Apple has filed a patent that suggests it is considering a Smart-Home Energy Management Dashboard System http://bit.ly/7lluJ7. Apple's Smart Home Energy Management Dashboard System anticipates intelligent power monitoring using the power line networking technology, according to Patently Apple. The Apple patent identifies the concept of an "Intelligent Power-Enabled Communications Port" with the ability to intelligently manage energy within the home.
There will certainly be more to come in this area and we can expect some of the most exciting aspects being the new applications that will evolve as this technology matures.