I’m at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas and very tired after a long day of travel and walking around a massive massive convention hall. The LVCC was built in phases so you’ll walk through a huge hall, then into a small hallway and then suddenly find yourself in another massive hall, and then some weird connection hallway, and then and even bigger one. And then you go into a corner and there is a door to a room filled with more stuff. It’s just absolutely weird. And on top of that you’ll walk around and find stuff like USB plugs next to flying robots next to stereo speakers next to cameras. And then it does it all over again. Very little rhyme or reason to why things are so spread out but they are.
Anyway, one of the things I’ve been looking at intently (so intently as to be considering it for a business) is small, outlet-level “smart grids”. I call them micro-smart grids but apparently that means something else. Micro smart grids are outlet attachments that report back to a central device to tell you how much electricity your house is using. The a/c unit, the tv, the lamp, the bathroom electric toothbrush, etc. You can track each and every item in the house.
I did a bit of research and it seemed like an easy to develop idea but one that most had not really considered doing. Boy was I wrong. I’ve seen three big companies doing this.
D-link is a massive company that has network switches, routers, cameras and a ton of other things. They’ve recently fixed their home security monitoring system to include energy systems, utilizing third party electrical plugs. Honestly it felt like energy monitoring was a bit of an after thought for them, but apparently their system was nominated for the best in innovation award for CES.
Energyhub is the startup of the mix. They have a nice display and outlet covers running over Zigbee. They’ve closed a recent funding round and have another in the wings. They will have some tough competition from the bigger players if they can’t get going fast enough, but their units looked very professional and ready for consumers to start buying.
Marvell has a nice looking device that will be out in Home Depot shortly. It works over wifi and displays the usage of all outlets and whatnot, along with also controlling your lawns sprinkler systems if you have such a thing. They were the furthest along in development and said they will be in Home Depots sometime in the next few months, at a pretty low cost.
Oregon Scientific. Looks very sexy but haven’t seen it in person yet.
There are probably other devices out there, but I haven’t had a chance to meet them all. What is really interesting about these devices is that eventually they will be in almost every home, regardless of whether you are geeky or not as new contractors and energy companies start to roll them out for consumer usage.
I’m going to the ‘Asia rooms’ today to meet with manufacturers of different things. They might have some cool toys in there as well. Follow my Twitter updates if you want to keep up with me real time.