The Future of Smart Living
July 1, 2018, 8:15 am
It is interesting to see the smart home industry shift from a centralised, fully-fledged solution to a de-centralised mix and match of smart gadgets. Remember the days when you wanted to ‘smartify’ your home? You would need to call an expert to come in for a consultation and offer a solution that would probably cost anywhere between the price of a Tesla Model 3 and the net wealth of Elon Musk!
However, times have changed. Today, you can simply buy a Smart Plug that allows you to turn off your PlayStation using an app, all for less than $100. And for an extra $50, you can connect it to a virtual assistant and turn off your PlayStation by simply saying, “Hey Sandy (or any other VA name), turn off my PlayStation”. It is simple, beautiful, easy and very cool.
We cannot deny that, with the progression of different technologies, smart home gadgets have become abundant. Nevertheless, this market segment still remains populated with a fairly small percentage of tech-savvy customers. So, what is the next big thing in smart home technology that would shift these products from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’?
There is one type of device in the market that uses a technology called Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring or NILM for short. This technology comprises of algorithms that detect, record and compare noise signatures of different appliances. Every time you turn on your microwave, this device detects that the microwave is on by measuring the change in the electricity load. You are therefore informed when each of your appliance is turned on/off, how much electricity it consumes, how much each appliance is costing you to run, and you can even receive personalised tips on how to decrease the consumption of that specific appliance, without having to spend thousands of dollars to smartify it.
This technology might just disrupt the industry because now there is a use case that will greatly appeal to the vast majority.
Ecoisme, a London-based startup, looked into further application of this technology to create a device that will appeal to the conventional pool as well as new customers. They introduced the ability to integrate a solar PV, home battery, and home EV charger into the system. Now, just one device will intuitively manage your entire home ecosystem and cost just $250.
The company realised the opportunity to utilise the amount of data they are receiving by creating a database of appliance noise signatures to provide further services. The device can detect the noise signature of your appliance and compare your appliance’s performance to the average performance of an appliance within the same category to let you know if your appliance is over performing or underperforming. For example, if you learned that your washing machine had above average consumption resulting in greater costs, you would consider putting your hard-earned money into one that conserved more.
Ecoisme’s technology will also inform you how much it would cost to buy or sell energy from the grid, based on your existing and forecasted consumption. Being an early adopter to this technology, the company might just position itself as a leader in the smart home energy manager market. There will be a time in the near future when every household will own a PV, a home battery, an EV charger, and have the choice to buy/sell electricity from/to utility providers or even neighbours.
Ecoisme’s smart home device has certainly won some accolades. It was voted best smart home innovation of CES 2016, and later voted the best smart living innovative product by EDF – one of Europe’s largest electricity producers. By 2017, Ecoisme launched 25 pilots with companies around the world, including EDF, DEWA, T-Mobile and innogy.
In November 2016, Ecoisme completed the Dubai Future Accelerators program, and signed an MOU with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to conduct a pilot study, which included software and hardware testing to understand the potential benefits for end-customers and utilities at a large adoption scale. The next year, the company joined hands with innogy International Middle East.
Says Pierre Samaties, CEO and Managing Partner of innogy, “Unlike most smart home devices that cater to trend, Ecoisme fills a major gap in the smart home industry. It helps solve a problem that is being faced by consumers today, and acts as a cornerstone for the energy customer of the future. This customer requires a fully integrated solution that connects to their PV, EV charger and home battery, as well as act as an independent home energy manager when the era of Peer-2-Peer energy sharing becomes prominent. Ecoisme fits well into innogy’s product portfolio of ventures, and being a promising startup in the smart home industry, they could benefit from our expertise in smart living and the energy sector in general.”