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Summary:

There’s a growing number of options out there for aspiring home energy app makers — this morning wireless energy management startup People Power released its software developer’s kit called SuRF (Sensor Ultra Radio Frequency) for OSHAN (Open Source Home Area Network). Using SuRF (which you can […]

There’s a growing number of options out there for aspiring home energy app makers — this morning wireless energy management startup People Power released its software developer’s kit called SuRF (Sensor Ultra Radio Frequency) for OSHAN (Open Source Home Area Network). Using SuRF (which you can buy for $150 here), developers can create applications that run over People Power’s open source-based wireless system, which can connect home fixtures and appliances and transmit energy data to a web-based portal.

The developer ecosystem for applications that will enable consumers to manage their home energy consumption is still very nascent. Mainstream consumers are largely not yet interested in buying home energy management gadgets, and Google’s web energy tool PowerMeter has only signed up a couple thousand users by early February.

But increasingly Internet companies and startups like People Power have been releasing developer kits and APIs (application programming interface) to encourage developers to design innovative software in this area. Earlier this month Google officially opened up the API of its web energy tool PowerMeter, and Microsoft also recently told us it just released a software developer kit for its energy tool Hohm to a select number of gadget makers. Eventually Microsoft wants to open up Hohm to any developer, too.

People Power’s technology takes the idea of open energy information one step further, and it’s built upon an open source platform for wireless sensor networks. People Power’s SuRF kit is built upon a project that came out of UC Berkeley, as part of the DARPA Networked Embedded Systems Technology (NEST) program, called TinyOS, which offers developers low cost open-source software and an operating system for wireless home networks. People Power says SurF enables developers to see how the applications would work throughout the development stage and can help developers create apps at a lower cost.

These moves by startups and web giants show that the era of open energy information is slowing emerging. But will that lead to innovation, which can deliver applications and hardware that can convince consumers to curb their energy consumption? One crucial aspect will be how the developer community responds — on GigaOM Pro I’ve looked at some of the important aspects that developers need to consider when looking to create applications and gadgets based on home energy management platforms (subscription required).

People Power, the latest Silicon Valley venture focused on the home energy management space — which officially launched in November — is banking that its open-source home area network platform and the innovation of developers will make it stand out in an increasingly crowded industry. The company raised an undisclosed amount in its first venture round from New Cycle Capital and several angel investors to support the commercialization of the company’s product launch. CEO Gene Wang — who previously led four startups, including Bitfone which he sold to Hewlett-Packard and Computer Motion which he took public in 1997 — told us that the company plans to ship products this year and will target three distribution channels: utilities, consumer electronics companies and direct sales to consumers.

SuRF can be pre-ordered now, but will start shipping in April. People Power is also holding a contest for the most compelling application built upon SuRF — the deadline is September 15, 2010 — and People Power will give the winner 5,000 shares of People Power stock, $5,000 and a free SuRF board.

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By Katie Fehrenbacher

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  3. This could be a game changer in the home area network and sensor market.

  4. Christine Hertzog Monday, March 15, 2010

    This is a very interesting technology initiative that leverages the multiple strengths of open source development where it is most needed – the home energy management market. Open source means interoperability and that in turn provides the future-proof assurances that consumers want. I look forward to seeing the innovative solutions competing in the contest!

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  6. Smooth comments, I almost believe you two don’t work for OSHAN ;-)

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  9. Marco Graziano Thursday, March 25, 2010

    First of all I really like this company and what they are doing. I can understand all the excitement but after looking at the details, I cannot see how the open source board made available could easily (and safely) be used for monitoring energy. It is one of many more or less open available technologies for wireless sensors, but it is not an usable system for energy monitoring and arguably the more critical component.

    Disclaimer: my company makes energy monitoring wireless devices and software.

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