Home Power Manager and Smart Meters
Figure 4: Home power managers offer a graphically rich user experience.
Home power managers help homeowners monitor usage and back-up systems to better understand and control the use of energy within the system of their home. These home power managers also utilize smart meters that enable two-way communication between the home meter and the electric utility. This communication functionality is powered by an external Flash memory; Flash technology is also used to log data, which is typically stored on an SOC.
Flash memory is also playing a critical role in building out the telecommunications infrastructure used to support this growing market. High reliability code and data storage is required for the build-out of next-generation telecommunications infrastructures, and NOR Flash memory—with its wide density range— is perfectly suited for advanced networking gear and helps ensure systems are up and running.
Widespread adoption of this technology has been made possible by improvements in memory longevity, because end products for the home need to have a longer life span (approximately 10 years) than consumer devices, like a smartphone, which is likely to be replaced every few years. Combined with the NOR Flash memory’s inherent reliability, this longevity has allowed smart meters to move into the residential market. We are also starting to see smart meters that communicate with smart appliances, providing homeowners the ability to proactively manage their energy usage.
When it comes to home appliances, embedded systems provide flexibility, efficiency and new features. Refrigerators, stoves, vacuum cleaners and other appliances require a larger memory footprint to be “smart” – stored data is how the smart fridge knows when to alert the homeowner that its door is ajar, and how the robot vacuum knows when it is running out of power and needs to direct itself back to the dock. With high-density Flash, embedded devices use a combination of sensors and algorithms to understand the world around them and even learn from the user.
As we move into the future, we will see intelligent UIs grow in complexity, paving the way for advances in predictive intelligence. Predictive intelligence provides systems with the ability to understand the different choices a user can make at any particular time. We are currently seeing this technology in its infancy (e.g., the autocorrect function on mobile devices), but with the next generation of advances in the home there is potential to make a multitude of housework and home management much, much easier.
The infrastructure and technology is there to support growth in the smart home device market. As user interfaces in mobile phones, tablets and other consumer devices evolve, we will see an increased demand for smart thermostats and appliances that offer rich graphics and HMI on par with these consumer devices. To meet this demand and maintain the integrity of this market, designers need NOR and NAND Flash memory to provide long-term support, density, performance and instant on capabilities.