Belkin buys Zensi Home Energy Monitoring Sensors

xbeeIts just one moment in the home energy monitoring churn, but its of interest because Belkin both has some consumer clout, and is also known to the general public as the “cable and outlet” people. So when Belkin buys a small home energy monitoring sensor company like Zensi a week or two ago, one can only hope they have a good plan to market the concept, or at least do some of the work to get consumers comfortable with the whole data-driven lifestyle concept (see a great nyt breakdown of the difficulties involved in widespread adoption of sensing technology here). The big benefits, of course, are increased consumer interest in ultra low power solutions having a better price point.

Zensi appears like its strategy may rely on a database of electronic signatures to determine product usage, compared to other companies with their “putting a chip in everything” approach. The difficulty with these strategies, of course, is its like the vendor driver compliance rating problem: signatures either require doing things yourself, or convincing vendors to partner/give you their measurements. Of course, such level of detail may not matter in the home energy monitor sensing context, and as long as the fridge, washingmachine, tv, computer, and blender can be identified, no one will really care about the pencil sharpener.

From an MIT TR breakdown of the deal:

The concept behind Zensi’s technology is simple: a single sensor is plugged into a wall outlet, where it “listens” to the high-frequency electrical noise produced in the wiring when different devices are turned on. Each electrical device has a signature that is unique to the kind of device it is, its brand, and its location within a house. This information, in turn, reveals its energy consumption. [technology review]

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