Perhaps the biggest gold mine in the broad Internet of things sector is the smart meter. The concept of eventually putting every home and office electric meter on a distributed network has attracted chip, software and networking giants and startups alike—and of course all the existing meter makers.
It’s early days for the smart meter. Zigbee grabbed an early lead with use in more than a million smart meters to date as the link mfrom the meter to the so-called home area network or HAN. But next generation meters are expected to adopt the Smart Energy Profile 2.0 specification which includes optional implementations based on HomePlug powerline networking and Wi-Fi in addition to Zigbee.
Debates still rage over whether the smart meters linking upstream to the utility network should use powerline networking, a new variant of Wi-Fi in the works, cellular networks or available underused and available WiMax spectrum and services.
While the debates go on, prototypes are being shopped around to all the stakeholders including this mock up (right) of a smart meter using the G3-PLC standard and chips from Maxim.
Tomorrow’s smart buildings require plenty of other pieces to fall in to place. For example, Philips and others are working on smart lighting systems.
Another example comes from startup Vigilent which has developed and energy management system (below) and analytics services tailored for energy-conscious data centers. It uses wireless sensors based on Dust’s technology.