The internet’s power will allow management of the home in ways that save energy and money automatically in its next stage of development, a pioneer in the online world attending the Consumer Electronics Show told Breaking Energy this week.
AlertMe CEO Mary Turner helped launch some of the first large internet services in Europe, and now she is helping the technology developers of the next stage of the internet build a cloud-computing platform hub that lies at the heart of a new partnership with home goods retailing giant Lowe’s.
AlertMe is more than a product for smart meters or facilitation of the smart grid, Turner told Breaking Energy as she led the setup of her team’s presence ahead of the CES show in Las Vegas.
“To date the internet has been about communicating with others and engaging with content, but another transformation is taking place,” Turner said. “The macro environment is poised for the integration of smart devices into the home.”
Convenience and flexibility are at the heart of AlertMe’s Iris home management system, which will be offered on roughly 10-15 devices sold at Lowe’s starting in the second quarter of this year, with a total of 20-30 devices eventually covered under the agreement.
The key difference for Turner from other smart meter systems is the absence of reliance on a single device, meaning the system can adapt to customer usage requirements and I uniform with what customers are currently used to in dealing with internet platforms. As with other systems, AlertMe and similar connected device systems will have to earn customers’ trust, Turner said, but she says customers are more sophisticated than they are often given credit for: “Everything in our lives today is digitized – this is no different for consumers than existing levels (of connectedness).”
The Internet Of Things
One of the main reasons for a partnership like the one with Lowe’s is access to a large customer base; the home improvement chain says it serves more than 15 million customers each week. AlertMe is gathering usage data that can eventually be aggregated and give companies insights into automated efficiency measures.
Current systems often require an unrealistic level of involvement by domestic retail customers, and like Constellation Energy’s Virtuwatt, successful smart meter products in the US have been tailored to larger-scale energy users with greater incentives to shed load at times of high power prices. In AlertMe’s idea of the future of domestic smart meters, customers will simply turn on their devices and use them normally while data is passively uploaded and can be examined for innovative insights by firms.
“It is putting your house on cruise control,” Turner said, pointing out how analogous the journey home data is taking to the one already traveled by internet users, whose usage is aggregated and examined for business insights.
A number of the major firms setting up at CES will be telling “a connected story,” Turner said from her vantage point on the exhibition floor, saying that the transformation of connectivity to houses is much bigger and wider than smart grid.
“This is the next stage of the internet,” she said.
Photo Caption: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer stand in front of the ‘Effizienzhaus Plus’ energy-efficient house on December 7, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. The house, which is a pilot project of the German Ministry for Traffic, Construction and Urban Development, generates though a variety of means more energy, mostly in the form of electricity, than it consumes.