Hitachi Communication Technologies America (Hitachi CTA) and Tendril, which provides energy measuring devices and analysis software, have announced that they are working together to deliver a range of smart energy applications to consumers via an array of set-top boxes, wireless gateways and other devices that are already in the home. The idea is that this improves the economics of home energy management by providing an alternative to special-purpose gateways and other specialised hardware.
As a result of the collaboration Tendril’s suite of web and mobile home energy management applications will now be available via the Hitachi SuperJ Applications Ecosystem, an open, Java-based platform.
It means that telecom, cable, mobile and other providers who already have gateways and set-tops in homes can add Tendril’s technology to their smart home applications and services. So power utilities will be able to use the existing service providers to deliver energy efficiency and demand response programmes. Hitachi and Tendril have already validated the operation of the Tendril application running on SuperJ-enabled gateways from several major suppliers of service provider gateways.
Review: It shows just how tentative the home energy management (HEM) market is that a new approach is being put forward in this way. But market progress has been slow and Microsoft and Google have already pulled out, although that hasn’t stopped others, such as Panasonic, piling in. There’s a lot at stake in giving consumers more control over their power use.
This collaboration from Hitachi and Tendril is based on existing technology in the home, which certainly gives it an advantage – cheaper and easier to implement – but there’s a long way to go yet. It needs extensive buy-in from energy providers as well as the applications to make it worthwhile.
Even then, this is just one of a whole range of competing technologies and companies in this market. No doubt part of the reason for the slow adoption is the diversity of solutions. Add to that the fact that consumers in the US are still unfamiliar with smart meters and smart grids, it’s no great surprise that home energy management has yet to take off.