Smart Grid Discovery Showcase: The ThingWorx development platform for next-generation smart grid apps

Tools

By Jesse Berst

 

In case you haven't noticed, the smart grid is turning into the world's first example of machine-to-machine (M2M) at scale. It behooves us, therefore, to pay attention to M2M tools and technologies.

 

M2M (also known as the Internet of Things) describes the coming world where there will eventually be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. Connected to the Internet and talking to each other.

 

How M2M tools benefit electric power

The M2M world has been slow to accelerate, although it is now beginning to take off in smart grid, health care and telematics (vehicles). It has already spawned technologies of great value to electric power. For instance, Digi International seeks to be the middleware that can talk to any kind of device.

 

A new kind of development tool

The communications and connectivity piece is important. But that still leaves a need for tools to build connected apps. The most interesting new tool I've seen in the past year comes from a young Pennsylvania company called ThingWorx.

The four key facets of the ThingWorx development platform

Below are the four pillars of the ThingWorx toolkit.

 

1.     Communication support for 24x7, always-connected devices

2.     A development platform for rapidly building applications that deal with devices, people, and/or businesses

3.     A mashup builder to create compelling user interfaces without writing code

4.     A new version of its search function that extends search to connected devices

 

Someday, we will be able to search things as quickly and comprehensively as we search websites today.

 

With the ThingWorx search functionality, a utility could, for instance, create a query to find any and every work crew whose truck is equipped with a particular piece of gear and where someone on the crew can speak Spanish. Or it could search for any pole top transformer whose latest readings were out of spec. (Assuming, of course, that those crews and those devices were connected.)

 

For those of you thinking about building applications for the Silver Spring Networks platform, or for Tendril's "cloud platform for the Energy Internet," for your own internal use or to enter into the DOE's apps for energy challenge, the ThingWorx toolkit may open up a new world of possibilities.

 

More from our Discovery Showcase series…

Stealth smart grid company hopes to revolutionize demand response

The grid's dumbest component (and how to make it smart)

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Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com. He consults to smart grid companies seeking market entry advice and M&A advisory. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the US and abroad, he also serves on the Advisory Council of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Energy & Environment directorate.