Google has made available the application programming interface (API) for its Powermeter – which we first reported on more than a year ago. The Powermeter helps users monitor their energy use and cost, either overall or by device.
Making the API available means that developers can integrate the software with their applications and products. Hence device manufacturers will be able to incorporate the ability to work with the software at the time of manufacture.
Up till now Powermeter relied on Google’s utility or device partners to supply the energy data, but Google said that it’s launching the API “in order to help build the ecosystem of innovative developers working towards making energy information more widely available to consumers”.
It’s an interesting move by Google and may have more significance than at first sight. The company would like to see electrical equipment manufacturers incorporate Powermeter compatible in a range of home devices, such as refrigerators and washing machines. Building in such capabilities has already started - US company Whirlpool anticipates selling a million smart-grid-ready clothes dryers by the end of 2011. The company is part of the Smart Green Grid Initiative in the US.
By making the API available, Google is hoping its software will end up at the heart of the smart device movement. And with smart grids seen as a possible element of, or stepping stone to, the ill-defined but potentially all-pervasive Internet of Things, Google may just have planted a seed that could bear significant fruit.
It’s likely, though, that the company could also find itself at the centre of another privacy and security row. There is already significant concern about privacy issues around smart grids and smart meters, causing some resistance to their adoption around the world. It seems that people don’t want others to know how much energy their using, although I would have thought there were much greater privacy issues to worry about first.