CES: Not just electronic entertainment - smart grid technology is there too

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By: SGN Staff

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It's true. You can find just about anything innovative in the world of home electronics and related devices at the Consumer Electronics Show running through the week in Las Vegas: home entertainment centers, health and fitness applications and everything you could ask for in control and audio and video technologies – and that includes a lot of new and improved home energy management and EV-related technologies as well.

 

Here's a taste of what's on display at the show.

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Ford announced its MyEnergi Lifestyle collaboration to illustrate how a typical American family can substantially cut their power bills and CO2 footprint by connecting home appliance and plug-in vehicle technology. The collaboration between Ford, Eaton, Sunpower, Whirlpool and others specifically shows how connecting renewable energy generation with "time-flexible" loads can boost efficient energy use. A Georgia Institute of Technology computer model predicts that a typical home can reduce energy costs by 60% by including a MyEnergi Lifestyle product. The collaborators plan to outfit a home (to be selected through a contest that will be announced later) with energy saving products from each company and others to demonstrate how affordable and convenient a sustainable lifestyle can be.

 

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EV charging station major players ChargePoint and DBT USA have announced their plans to "significantly expand the networked EV charging station landscape in North America." As a result of their partnership, DBT's Level II charging stations can now connect to ChargePoint, considered the world's biggest global EV charging network. The benefits are that through ChargePoint DBT can offer station owners and EV drivers several advanced features that include trip planning assistance, managing charging costs and finding and using public charging stations.

 

Nexia Home Intelligence is displaying what the company says is a "bigger and better than ever" home automation system. The Nexia system is compatible with products from a number of major home industry companies to help homeowners manage a variety of functions and equipment like door locks, heating and cooling systems, video surveillance, lights and shades and energy use. Acknowledging homeowners' increasingly mobile lifestyle, Nexia's home automation system allows them to manage their homes from wherever they are.

GreenPeak Technologies, a low power RF-communication semiconductor company, announced the GP690 which adds ZigBee PRO to its product lineup and providing complete support for its Open Smart Home Framework. The framework integrates the three Zigbee networking variations Green Power, RF4CE and PRO into one overall architecture which the company describes as the "second wireless network for the home." And that second network is complementary with Wi-Fi, the first wireless home network for content distribution such as TV, movies and Internet. Zigbee enables wireless networking for sensing and control devices such as remote controls, lighting, thermostats, security equipment, fitness devices and more.

 

Smart home technology company Sentec launched its MicroMonitor, which provides very low cost (less than $9) point of use energy sensing. The device fits between plug and outlet and wirelessly sends data on how much energy individual appliances are using. Components include a C-strip sensor, an on-chip metrology software library and what the company says is a unique micro AC-DC power supply (and no batteries). The device also could be built into wall outlets, integrated into a plug or lead or built into an appliance.

 

Z-Wave.me, a member of wireless control products association Z-Wave Alliance, has brought together what it describes as the "hottest new development platform and leading home control technology." The Raspberry Pi, an inexpensive but powerful mini-computer has had its intelligence boosted with a plug-in module that adds Z-Wave, which the company says is the "key enabling technology"  in the wireless home control and automation world.

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The combined technologies are being launched at CES as the RaZberry, which Z-Wave.me says will give developers access to a large selection of Z-Wave home control products and to develop their own control and home automation solutions. Z-Wave interoperable products include lighting, heating and cooling, security and other control devices with user control capability from smart phones, tablets, browsers, the cloud and HDMI devices.