I met today with Ali Kashani and Janice (pronounced “Janeece”) Cheam of Energy Aware in their offices in Chinatown, East Vancouver. Ali is a UBC Vancouver Engineering Ph.D, and Janice is a Sauder “BComm” graduate. Together, they are the brains behind Energy Aware’s novel approach to the “hairball” of the Internet of Things. I began our meeting as a skeptic, and came away impressed with their approach, their market savvy, their chemistry as a team, and the big name partners they have already attracted. The problem that Energy Aware faces is one of scale and money. Major global players like Intel, Cisco Systems, Qualcomm and others have decided to focus here as well. That is both good and bad for Energy Aware. The big dogs have the ability to crush better ideas with money, or to collaborate with Energy Aware, so its anyone’s guess what may happen here. The market for the Internet of Things is hideously complex, confused and immature, a perfect opportunity for an innovative entrepreneurial team to win, with Vancouver as their setting.
Vancouver company providing a novel approach to cracking the IoT “Tower of Babble”
Reblogged from The Vancouver Sun
November 14, 2013. 4:21 pm • Section: Digital Life
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- Vancouver company helps turn your home into a smart homePosted on Nov 14, 2013
What has its start as Janice Cheam’s student project at UBC’s Sauder School of Business has turned into an innovative new technology for transforming an ordinary home into a smart home of the future.
Dubbed the Neurio, the technology is contained in a WiFi sensor that connects to your home’s breaker panel, tracking energy use by appliances and other electrical devices and integrating with the cloud and apps enabling consumers to manage everything from turning down the thermostat when they leave the house to reminding them that they left the oven on.
I paid $129 to the Kickstarter campaign to be among the first consumers to get the Neurio Home package that includes a sensor, access to an online site with apps for managing power use.
According to Cheam, who is president and CEO of Energy Aware, the company that created Neurio, using Neurio could save that $129 and more by encouraging more careful energy consumption.
“We’ve found and a lot of studies have shown this, when people start to get real time feedback on the way they use energy it really changes the way people behave and how they interact with their appliances,” said Cheam. “At a very basic level there is just this consciousness that my house is actually costing me money right now.
“If I’m going to leave this house it is still going to cost me money so maybe I should turn something off and save money while I do that. That positive feedback reinforces people’s desire to want to waste less energy.”
It worked for Ali Kashani, vice-president, software for Energy Aware.
Using a prototype of the Neurio in his Vancouver apartment, he cut his annual power bill from $750 a year to $400, an accomplishment that also earned him a $75 rebate from BC Hydro’s Power Smart program.
Among the power culprits in his home? A stereo amp that was set to demo mode from the store.
“When I started using the sensor I realized even when I hit the off button it was still consuming energy,” he said. “It was costing me about $10 a month and with a simple configuration change that problem was resolved.”
In the case of another family using the sensor, the software was able to determine that the household’s Saturday laundry was costing them much more than it should.
“One of the things we were able to detect really easily was that their dryer was really inefficient because you could tell how much energy it was consuming every time they ran a load,” said Cheam. “We could not only alert the customer to how much energy his laundry was using but we were also able to compare it to the community and show him how much more his dryer was costing in power.”
Neurio uses algorithms to track power usage and like the Nest Thermostat, learns over time.