Energy management in the cloud

People Power Co., a start-up helmed by long-time Silicon Valley executive Gene Wang, has developed what it calls the Energy Services Platform (ESP), which is essentially a cloud-served application for monitoring and control the electricity usage of various devices in your home or office.

People Power Co., a start-up helmed by long-time Silicon Valley executive Gene Wang, has developed what it calls the Energy Services Platform (ESP), which is essentially a cloud-served application for monitoring and control the electricity usage of various devices in your home or office. (Disclosure, Wang is a friend of mine from when I lived in Silicon Valley in the mid-1990s.)

ESP (how's that for a spooky acronym?>) can communicate with consumer electronics equipment, lights, printers, refrigerators -- basically anything that is part of the Open Source IPv6 Automation Network OSIAN). To be part of OSIAN, the devices have to be enabled with a People Power SuRF Module OR plugged into a socket or power strip equipped with the module; devices that are Wi-Fi or ZigBee-enabled can also talk to the network, though. These devices communicate up to ESP, which is hosted in the cloud.

The video below pretty much sums up how the platform works along with the intended applications for the technology, such as reducing home or business energy consumption.

Wang says ESP will enable real-time, plug-level electricity management and it will serve as the foundation for applications that allow people to Monitor their usage according to some sort of predetermined budget; Control the amount of electricity they are using against those levels; Compare their usage to other similar homes or businesses in their neighbor; and (for fun) Compete with other people to help encourage reduced consumption.

Some of the companies that plan to use the ESP technology include Ricoh Innovations, Texas Instruments and D-Link.

ESP can be controlled via a Web browser, although there also is an iPhone application, if you're inclined. An Android application is in the works, Wang says.

So, I'll admit it: I'm skeptical. People Power will be competing with some pretty big names in the home energy management software sector, including Microsoft and Google.

I also wonder who takes the time to worry about this and act on it, but Wang has an answer for that. First off, ESP allows for plenty of automation, so you set things up once and then pretty much let it act on its own. Second, People Power is working closely with Stanford University's behavior sciences department on its interface and application design. In fact, some of People Power's grant awards have been to work on exactly this problem, Wang says. "We are really trying to use familiar design principles, such as a car dashboard," he says.

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