Monitoring power usage with a countertop display

energyjouleWhen was the last time you consulted your electricity meter? Let alone watched its dials spin slowly as it tracks your power usage?

Enter Ambient Device’s Energy Joule. It’s a small digital display that you could put on your kitchen counter or on the desk of your home office. The back of the Joule glows green when demand for electricity is low, yellow when it’s moderate, and red when it is high. The display on the front shows you the current price of energy per kilowatt hour — it’s designed for markets where price rises and falls based on demand — and how much you’re currently consuming. You can also view your home’s usage trends. (During non-peak periods of electric demand, the Joule can also show the local weather forecast.)

A Canadian utility with 1.4 million customers, Hydro One, just launched a pilot test with the Joule, to see if this new kind of household information display can change the way people use power. Ambient Devices CEO Pritesh Gandhi tells me that the Joule’s cost about $75 each, in quantities of more than 10,000. They connect wirelessly to the home’s power meter.

Ambient, founded in 2001, has been a pioneer in new kinds of wireless information displays that provide “glanceable information” — about power usage, stock prices, or sports scores.

Four key observations about the Joule (pictured below in its packaging):

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