Instead, let’s imagine a real smart meter.
A real smart meter at least would know what my average energy consumption is, so if there was a sudden spike in energy usage, it would recognize that there was something that needed attending to and would send me an alert. Even better, a truly smart meter could take action, stopping the supply of water and electricity (or in our case natural gas), if something is really wrong.
I probably would not expect my smart meter to fix the warm water pipe in the basement, but it should be able to inform me that “unusual consumption registered, uncontrolled depletion suspected -- supply suspended, please verify before reinstating,” or some type of message to get my attention.
Looking back, I now realize that we really did not get a “smart” meter installed. It was only hyped as a smart meter: a marketer running away with what an engineer told him could be possible…
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The better term probably would have been ”digital meter,” as it only measures the energy consumption digitally on a continuous basis, and communicates this with a host computer. This process enables me to log in on the utilities’ website and check my power consumption. But there is nothing smart about this meter (or metering); it may be state-of-the-art, it may be an advanced sensor, but to call it smart? At a minimum a smart meter should be able to detect and alert exception situations.
This is a good example of how the hype cycle is building, because it is clear that this digital meter has the capability of turning into a truly smart meter. That is, if it could be connected with the data of my regular energy consumption, and also if it would be capable to take action; that is: sending an alert and cutting the supply until the problem is fixed (or someone gives an override). But as long as this is not the case, my digital meter, despite its interesting advanced electronics, is as equally dumb as its analog predecessor. The lesson here is: be aware of marketers, putting their hands on technology.
This is just one example of how the word “smart” is being misused today. I fear many end users will be greatly disappointed as they realize that their new Smart Home is not very smart at all. As I said before, just because a device has some computing capability and is connected to the Internet, does not mean it is Smart. It needs some kind of intelligence in the system -- in the cloud -- that recognizes what is normal and what is wrong, and then has the ability to take some action to correct the problem.
Cees Links is the founder and CEO of GreenPeak, a fabless semiconductor company and the leader in the ZigBee market with a rich offering of semiconductor products and software technologies for Smart Home data communications and the Internet of Things.