In a smarter grid world, what new software applications will resonate with consumers? Tendril, a Boulder, Colo.-based software platform provider for energy markets, has made a move in Europe that will help answer the question. Tendril has partnered with Dutch retail utility Essent to create a unique energy application crowdsourcing project.
Here are details of how the project is expected to unfold:
Later this year, qualified independent software application developers will use Tendril’s Connect cloud platform to gain access to interval-usage data from smart meters. Armed with this data, the developers are expected to create web-based and mobile applications aimed at energy efficiency in the home (see Pike Research’s latest report on Home Energy Management for our market view) – such as automation tools for switching off lights and controlling thermostats, or “dashboards” for showing real-time energy consumption and pricing. Then these applications will be made available through a kind of energy “app store” to a small test group of Essent residential customers whose homes are equipped with smart meters; these customers will provide feedback to the developers and rate the apps. Winning applications won’t be chosen by the utility, but rather by consumers themselves who will be choosing the ones that work best for them.
Eventually, the applications could be made available to all of Essent’s 2 million residential customers, and could go out to millions more through Essent’s parent company, RWE Group, which serves 24 million customers.
The project got a jumpstart during a “hackathon” event in Amsterdam called The Next Web Kings of Code Hack Battle, in late April, at which the project concept was presented to potential developer partners.
I like this idea of bringing software developers into the mix and letting consumers evaluate the results. Clearly, this will help speed up the process by enabling creative people from outside the traditional energy industry to experiment in new ways. Who knows, perhaps the Angry Birds of energy is just around the corner.
On May 24 I’ll moderate a panel at ConnectivityWeek in Santa Clara, California, called “Getting Useful Applications to Consumers.” The panelists and I will be delving into these same types of issues: What consumers want, and what can be made available to them through new applications? And, like the “hackathon” event in Amsterdam, the ConnectivityWeek conference sponsors are holding a similar contest to see who can come up with cool new energy apps. If you’re in the area, come and join the discussion.
Tags: Home Energy Management, Smart Grid Infrastructure, Smart Grid Practice, Software and Applications, Utility Innovations
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