Google recruits The Energy Detective

Google's plans to establish itself as a major player in the smart grid market have moved a step forward this week, after the IT giant signed its first device partner to complement its recently launched PowerMeter service.

The search engine giant's philanthropic arm has inked a deal with Energy Inc, which makes a home energy monitoring system called The Energy Detective (TED).

The move means that customers wanting to access Google's PowerMeter home energy usage monitoring service will no longer have to have a smart meter installed by their utility. Instead, they can connect the third-party device, called the TED 5000, to their home electricity system themselves.

Aimed at consumers, the TED 5000 home energy usage monitoring device uses a gateway device that connects and stores energy usage data from a residential electrical panel. This data can then be beamed wirelessly to a display that can be carried around by the user, providing individuals with a constant reminder of how much energy they are using.

The system can also connect to a network, so that its data is also transmissible to Google's servers. Google PowerMeter can then display a residence's energy usage using a chronological chart, while also rating the house against other residences, so that users can tell how well they are doing compared to the average PowerMeter user.

Google signed a selection of utility and smart meter manufacturing partners for the PowerMeter project in May, scattered around the US, Canada, and India. It also expects to sign more device partners, it said in a blog post.

Google complemented the partnership announcement by unveiling an open enrolment option for PowerMeter this week that means energy customers can sign up and use the service without going through their utility.

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