The energy markets in Spain, Belgium, the UK, etc. are using government money to deploy smart metres in peoples homes. Ridiculous amounts of up to a thousand Euros are budgeted for smart metres and their installation at people’s home. The worst part is that most suggested smart metres are incredibly dumb. Tax payers will have to pay billions either via taxes or spread over the next years in their energy bills, to have smart metres put in place that are already outdated before they get unboxed. Non of the proposed smart metres I have seen is impressive in specification, has an app store, can be software defined, etc. Doubts arise about proprietary solutions being as secure as they are promised to be.
An alternative approach?
Why don’t energy companies organise a competition in which anybody can design a smart metre. Energy companies should set out a budget for a good smart metre. However via a crowd funding campaign among their customers, you and me would be able to select which of the designs we want in our home and if we want to pay extra to get a more advanced model. Smart metre protocols aren’t nuclear science so anybody coming with an argument of standardisation is going to loose out against the alternative of competition lowering prices and increasing innovation. Smart metres ideally have a removable compute and storage part because what now seems advanced will be stone age in 5 years. App and app stores will allow households to redefine what smart means for them and create a new economy for entrepreneurs searching for the “smartest” angry bird app for an electricity metre.
The truth is that very few telecom operators have ever put a modem or set top box in people’s home that has impressed their customers. The problem now is that energy companies think they can do a better job and will keep tax payers hostage for 10 years. Remember nobody remembers the price of a bargain when the thing is not doing what it promised on the box and most smart metres are not what you and I would call smart…
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, just announced the biggest IoT innovation in history: SnApp Stores for any THINGS. Any THING can run apps from an associated Snapp Store. It is just like having apps on a mobile phone but instead apps run on any THING.
What does this mean?
Developers will be able to create apps with Snappy Ubuntu Core – Snappy Apps or Snapps – and run them on any THING. The list of THINGS is only limited by people’s imagination. It can be vacuum cleaners, fridges, dishwashers, coffee machines, alarm systems, robots, drones, set top boxes, HVAC, WiFi, switches, routers, telecom mobile base stations, agricultural irrigation controllers, swimming pool controllers, industrial appliances, medical equipment, digital signage, POS, ATMs, smart energy meters, cars, radios, TVs, IP cameras, clouds, 3D printers, virtual reality wearables, smart hubs and any next-generation device that can run Ubuntu Core and still needs to be invented. If it has an ARMv7 or X86 chip and 256MB or better then you can put a Snapp Store on it.
Apps made mobile phones go from stupid calling devices to personalised smart super computers many of us would not be able to live without. New industries were born. Complete industries revolutionized. The app revolution is about to be repeated but this time any THING is a target.
Imagine what will happen if all devices in your home, at work, in your city, on holidays, etc. go from stupid to smart and personalised. Your house will know if you are stressed before you enter the door. It will play the music it knows relaxes you, the coffee smell you prefer, the ideal temperature & light intensity, block calls you don’t want, have the house cleaned, your favourite food just minutes away from being delivered, grocery shopping done, that interesting TV series just waiting to entertain you, etc. Your energy bill will be lower, your car will adapt to you, your hover will collaborate with the alarm system, your pet will be fed the right diet, your children will have personalised parental control, your mail packages delivered where you are, etc.
Snapps will only be limited by your imagination so start dreaming now about what the Snapp Store should bring you an make your dreams come true at ubuntu.com/things.