One of the most significant challenges facing mankind at a global level is the environmental catastrophe that will surely materialize if we fail to transition towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy infrastructure. The statistics are staggering. With increasing per capita energy consumption in the developing world, a gargantuan overall energy footprint in the developed world and a propensity by all to use dirty sources of energy, we’re certainly heading for trouble.
There are two parts to the equation; cutting consumption – and that especially applies to the developed world – and building clean, renewable sources of power. Cisco’s new product addresses the first problem, and I’m super-excited about it!
The somewhat unimaginatively named “Home Energy Controller” is a follow-on to the recently announced Cisco Cius Android tablet. The new device will also run Android, provide a touch interface, access to an app-store, multimedia playback and now ubiquitous web browsing capabilities. However, in addition to the more usual fare, the HEC device will also interface with smart meters, thermostats, switches and power panels using both 802.11n and the low power Zigbee wireless standard. This will allow the HEC to measure energy consumption, lower extra usage in parts of your home which are not presently occupied, and otherwise reduce the energy footprint based on environmental or calendar triggered criteria.
You can view a video that explains the HEC concept here:
For more information, see this Computerworld article, or this Engadget post covering the new device. We’ll be keeping a close watch on how the new Cisco product evolves and whether it is indeed the first in a wave of energy efficiency and management products that can be adopted by end users without requiring governmental or utility company buy in. I certainly hope that’s the case! It’s high time we stopped waiting on others to act and took the initiative ourselves.