With the introduction of two new sensor solutions for buildings, one company is extending the "Internet of Things" to reach right under your sink and into your electrical junction box.
Belkin, a company perhaps more well known in IT departments than the home improvement department, has unveiled their consumer version of a technology originally developed for utilities and large facility managers, called Echo. The Echo Water and Echo Electricity devices are designed to analyze the user's consumption of two major inputs to living spaces, and then recommend options for reducing the use of both water and electricity (and saving money as a consequence).
Echo isn't just for analyzing the overall demand for energy and water, as both of the systems are said to be able to assess the use of resources "on a device-by-device basis", allowing individual homeowners and building managers to monitor and manage them more efficiently.
"Belkin’s Echo Electricity sensing system detects current and voltage signatures within a building’s electrical circuit using a single sensor that can be placed at the meter, breaker box, or in an outlet.
These signatures are analyzed using advanced machine learning-based algorithms that can determine exactly which devices are being used, when they are being used and how much electricity they consume.
This information can show a homeowner or building manager where electricity is being wasted, which devices need replacement or repair, and can also provide valuable insight into patterns of use and occupancy, enabling other valuable applications such as home security or assisted living." - Belkin
The Echo Water solution works in a similar way, except that it monitors water instead of electricity. Both are built on Belkin's WeMo wireless home automation network platform, which extends the devices and relays the data to allow for real-time monitoring and management of connected devices.
According to Belkin, the Echo technology is "one of the most advanced examples of Internet of Things technology launched to date", and is based on technology developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Washington. Both of the systems will be evaluated in pilot programs in the U.S. this year (including two test sites using Echo Electricity at Department of Defense installations), and are expected to become available sometime in 2014.