Bluetooth set as short range wireless standard for smart energy!
Back in early 2003, I’d done a story with Anders Edlund, marketing director, EMEA of Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). Those were the days when Bluetooth was just overcoming its teething problems. At that time, the SIG had unveiled a ‘five-minute ready’ program created to challenge and guide Bluetooth product developers and manufacturers in the Asia Pacific region to deliver devices that give consumers a “five-minute out-of-the-box experience.”
Fast forward to 2010! Nearly a fortnight ago, the Bluetooth SIG announced an enhanced focus on the needs of manufacturers of consumer devices in the smart grid environment. This effort, called Bluetooth Smart Energy, addresses the needs for wireless connections of sensors and actuators in the residence.
It is a great pleasure to hook up again with the Bluetooth SIG after quite a few years. Bluetooth as a technology, and Bluetooth SIG itself, have come a long way, very successfully, as well.
In the first part of a two-part discussion on Bluetooth Smart Energy, Mike Foley, executive director, Bluetooth SIG, discusses the rationale behind the Smart Energy effort, how it will benefit users, and whether it can stand up to possible challenges from other technologies.
May I also take this opportunity to thank Ms Jennifer Lopez, who made this possible, along with Starr Million Baker. Back to the story!
Rationale behind Bluetooth SIG’s Smart Energy effort
First, obviously, why the effort behind the Bluetooth SIG’s smart energy effort and why now!
According to Mike Foley, the smart energy market is a rapidly growing arena and one that the SIG is very interested in expanding its presence.
He said: “As different smart energy projects are planned, developed, and implemented, it is clear that there are different national requirements for each. However, there is an agreement that smart energy within the domestic environment will require the introduction of smart meters – and that is where we come in.
“These meters, which monitor and control our use of electricity, gas, and water, will need to provide real time information to consumers and interact in some form with energy consuming appliances. The interaction will take place with the help of short range wireless connections that are based on an existing standard.
“Bluetooth technology has proven itself to be a universally accepted wireless standard, implemented in a variety of use cases, and is now set to be established as the short range wireless standard for smart energy.”
Challenges from various technologies
Given the case that Bluetooth is positioned to be the short range standard for smart energy, how will it stand up to possible challenges from technologies such as ZigBee, RF4CE, Wi-Fi Direct, ANT, etc?
Foley said: “In my opinion, there is room for different types of technologies in this space. The one thing that has always set Bluetooth technology apart from competitive technologies is its ubiquity. Bluetooth technology is used in a variety of devices and is the go-to wireless standard for mobile phones, which are devices that could play a key role in remote energy monitoring.”
If utilities are going to adopt a short range wireless standard – why not adopt one that already has a presence in a number of key devices that users already own?
Bluetooth is by far the most successful of any of the short range wireless standards. It has been around for just over 10 years (twice as long as ZigBee) and outsells all of the other short range standards put together, with over 1 billion chips shipped every year.
“The very first Bluetooth products can still communicate with new ones that you buy today – something that neither 802.11 nor ZigBee can claim. Equally importantly, over the decade it has been shipping, it has evolved to address all of the key requirements of the smart energy market,” Foley added.
How will users benefit?
The key question: how will users like you and me stand to benefit from the smart energy initiative?
Foley said: “Remote monitoring of energy use is a definite benefit that users will experience through this smart energy initiative. By adopting Bluetooth as the short range wireless standard for the metering domain, the goal is to give users up-to-the minute information on their current energy use.
“The first stage of implementation will happen as new smart meters and energy monitors are deployed, which inform consumers of their energy use. These products are already available, such as Bluetooth enabled energy monitors (Zen and Plogg). They provide a wireless link from a meter or clip-on sensor to a display that can be programmed to show the current cost of electricity consumption. Users will no longer only receive energy usage information at the end of month, when there is nothing they can do to lower their bill or to take back the energy they have already consumed.”
This is said to be just the tip of the iceberg! In the next stage, smart energy will allow the utilities to turn off high energy consuming appliances, where necessary, to balance the grid, eventually lowering a user’s electricity bill as their energy consumption is monitored and balanced appropriately.
Bluetooth SIG also released two key strategy documents. The first document describes the market for in-home wireless in smart energy, domestic HVAC, and home appliances. The second document is a technical justification of Bluetooth technology as the choice for these markets. Both papers are available on the Bluetooth SIG website.
The concluding part of this discussion will look at the market for in-home wireless in smart energy developing in the years ahead, and scope in wireless sensor networks.
Stay tuned folks!