Sunday, January 13, 2013

Smart Grid reflections on CES

I spent a couple of hectic days at CES in Lost Wages this week.  I noticed a few things that seemed really interesting, and indicated the future for Smart Grid, or at least a glimmering of it.
  • Toshiba's presentation of a "home cloud".  While the acting was pretty stiff, and the audio was lip-synched, the view of an integrated home with load manangement (via the cloud), endpoint generation and storage, and the integration of entertainment, lifestyle, information and energy management was the kind of thing that I believe is needed if Smart Grid is going to be anything but another place for Utilities to accumulate Rate base.  
    • The Good
      • Thinking about storage and local generation with someone other than the grid deciding how it will be used.
      • Having energy management and control based on consumer choice and consumer-controlled decision-making about energy use.
      • The integration of  energy management into the Apple-like "coolness of lifestyle" will be the real driver for intelligent load to succeed in the residential market
    • The Bad
      • Cloud-based energy management needs local fallback in case communication to the cloud is lost.  If it is there, it wasn't mentioned.
    • The Ugly
      • You of course have to buy everything from Toshiba (including your cloud-based service management) in order to get it to happen.
  • The inclusion of a "connected home" area wasn't new, but it was interesting in the same way Toshiba's presentation was.  Possibilities...
  •  The ZigBee booth was large and easy to navigate through, in part because it was lightly attended. 
    • ZigBee may be taking damage from its close association with some of the early Smart Meter debacles, or the lack of comparability and interoperability across its various flavors, or something else entirely.
  • The Z-Wave booth was small and hard to get around in, in part because it was packed like a sardine can.
    • Z-Wave vendors were making much of their (very real) ability to interoperate and intercommunicate, but not as much as they could have.
    • They need a platform for easy and consistent end-user programming or customization of "scenes", preferably integrated with a television, smartphone or other "infotainment" device.  If one exists, they need to get it out front and make a big freaking deal about it.
  • Arrayent's platform for OEMs to build their solutions on a prepackaged, pre-engineered wireless networking solution has legs, particularly if they can get their OEM customers to start touting interoperability.  "Buy our device, because we work with devices from all these other companies!"  The customer neither knows nor cares that all those different products from different vendors come out of the same plant.
  • And finally...

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