I wish there were an easier way from idea to product. Of course, if there were I would have a house full of cool but unnecessary gadgetry (bacon toaster, geothermal beer dispenser, rocket recliner). I suppose the work involved in bringing an idea to fruition forces you to question the viability and necessity of the concept. So, here is something to “work on” by which I mean something to discuss in the comments.
We plan to include an energy monitor with all of our houses. This will allow the homeowner to monitor energy usage and will take advantage of the Prius Effect to help reduce energy consumption. Basically, it seems, if a person can see what each action is costing energy-wise, they will adjust their behavior. Transparency can be a beautiful thing.
The TED system which is pictured also includes an application for additional monitoring and data crunching. It basically offers a dashboard on your computer which tracks usage and presents the data in a variety of useful ways. There are major problems with it of course, the biggest of which is the fact that it only works on Windows at the moment, but more on that later.
The second major system we are considering introducing into our homes is a wireless switch system. Conceptually this is based on what the people at Verve are doing. Basically, wireless switches control lights and outlets. These switches can be assigned to as many fixtures as desired, meaning the integration of a whole house off switch that excludes necessary appliances or “always on” outlets becomes relatively simple. It also means that there is potential to control the lights through an alternate wireless signaling source (in addition to switches), and that leads us to my idea wish.
What I would like is a system which integrates energy modeling and wireless switch technology to allow energy usage to be viewed and controlled from a central location. I picture a web application which receives the energy monitoring data and the electricity control information. It presents this information side by side so that energy usage can be matched with the current state of lights, outlets and appliances. One will quickly get an idea of specific energy usage and of losses to phantom power. This system could make use of the house’s wireless network to turn outlets and lights on and off. It would be a great way to test various usage loads and lends itself to broader applications.
The web application format could also allow you to access the system and make changes remotely. For example, I can imagine an iPhone app that ties in to this system. One could see the current state of lights and outlets and make changes while away from home. For instance, you are out having a pint and you think to yourself, “Did I leave the lights on in the bedroom.” You pull out your phone, bring up your house application and see that you did. With just the swipe of a finger you turn the offending lights off. Or, maybe you glance at the app and notice your energy use is much higher than it should be with no one home. Checking your outlet activity, you see the stereo outlet is on. With one swipe you kill power to the device and save enough money for a second pint.
This could eventually be applied to a variety of wirelessly enabled switches accessing everything from window shades to security systems. You could adjust your thermostat, check air quality sensors and potential even unlock or lock your doors all from your phone.
Does this exist already? I know the components are all there, but has anyone put them together? If not, is it an idea worth pursuing? Is it useful? Profitable? And lastly, who wants to build it for me?
Comment time, GO!
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