Cambridge, MA based Ambient Devices, Inc. designs and markets various ambient devices for display of information ranging from weather to traffic reports to stock quotes. The firm founded in 2001 has received a funding of $10.3 million from Nicholas Negroponte, New York Angels, Rose Tech Ventures, and .406 Ventures.
The term "connected home" has been floating around in the industry for the last several years; however, only recently has this term truly begun to make sense to the average consumer. Utility companies have begun to realize the value in connecting with their customers and providing them with real-time information to make smart energy consumption choices. In addition, there is an increased reliance and comfort level with technology tools on the consumer side, so data that was once stored away in server farms is now expected to be available at your fingertips. Devices like the Ambient Energy Joule are translating data that was once tough to access into glanceable and actionable information that is making a real impact for consumers.
Regulations and Policies Proving to be Hurdles
The utility industry's primary focus for most of the last decade was determining "how to connect" the smart grid and related infrastructure - this mostly involved installing new smart meters, communication networks and equipment.
In the near future, the intense focus on customer engagement ("why we connect") will dictate the direction of the industry. Budgets are shifting away from long-term development projects that require bulldozers to projects that enhance the end customer experience and enable utilities to transform data into actionable events at the user level. Utilities are heading towards being more data driven and providing a new level of transparency about how consumer behavior can affect the management of their generation and distribution capabilities.
As the utility industry adopts a more solutions-based, customer-centric approach, one of the challenges facing entrepreneurs is the myriad of regulations and policies imposed by local or regional governing bodies. Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with technology and are beginning to expect solutions that are simple, user-friendly and provide immediate benefits. While entrepreneurial companies such as Ambient Devices are ready to jump in and provide these tools, regulations and policies have proven to be more difficult to navigate around and the industry is slow to adopt the home energy management technologies that consumers are looking for. (As told to Sagaya Christuraj)