We have custom computers of all sorts, why not custom devices for the smart grid? Ye of the screwdriver and systems integration/development set now have a new software development kit to play with called the SuRF Developer's Kit (aka SuRF) from People Power Company.
The company, fronted by long-time software development industry executive Gene Wang, plans to start shipping the kit towards the end of April (although you can preorder it today if you are so inclined). SuRF, which is priced at $149.95, comes with two boards and it builds on the Open Source Home Area Network (OSHAN) communications protocol; the actual development language used with the kit is a derivative of Tiny OS, which emerged out of the University of California at Berkeley. Wang says there are already about 10,000 active developers working with OSHAN.
As for People Power itself, one of its marquis customers is National Semiconductor.
So what can you develop with SuRF? The smart grid is a big factor, of course. So, many of the things that get produced with the kit might fall into the smart appliance realm, communicating wirelessly back to the Internet or some Web portal via OSHAN. But it isn't just about the smart grid. Wang says the kit is designed to support the development of the Internet of things, including energy monitors, thermostat sensors, security sensors, robotic toys, control devices for pools and spas. The list goes on. People Power's technology supports ultra-low power consumption, which means these things can get really small.
In fact, the company is running a contest through Sept. 15, 2010, to encourage the "coolest" wireless sensor. The winner will get $5,000 in cash, 5,000 shares in People Power (the company) and a new SuRF board to replace the one they turn in for the contest.