Intel showed off an experimental device last week in China that could someday substantially cut the costs of wiring homes and offices for energy efficiency, one more step in the company’s foray into energy.
The device is a server/sensor that monitors the power consumption of the various appliances in a home or small commercial building in real time. The device then sends the data, via Wi-Fi, to a phone, PC or a home energy management console, like the one Intel showed off at CES earlier this year.
“Turn-on and turn-off signatures are like fingerprints,” said Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer in an interview. “Compressors, motors, TVs, stereos--all of them have a unique signature. It is relatively easy to train the system to recognize these things.”
In the first stage, these devices will merely provide data to home energy consoles, but over time, remote control capabilities will be added so that lights can be turned off or thermostats turned down--either by a person or a computer--to save energy. Think of it as a Digital Mom (”Did you turn the lights off in your room…,” etc.) without the guilt.
Intel will work with Flextronics to get the first commercially available versions out later this year.
Ideally, these sorts of devices and the pattern recognition software that powers them will curb the amount of hardware that will be required for home automation. Everyone loves the idea of home automation. The problem is the cost: outfitting lights and appliances with sensors and radios scares white-goods makers.
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