Feeds

Google rolls out UK smart-meter cloud service

Insists content ≠ money: this one is 'philanthropic'

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Updated Everyone's favourite advertising company, Google, has today announced the UK roll out of its "PowerMeter" home-electricity-consumption cloud service. The idea is that users of certain home 'leccy meters will for some reason read them via Google's servers, rather than using the online services that come with the meters.

Google's two UK "partners" are first:utility, a small energy-trading firm which offers free smart meters to customers on one of its tariffs, and AlertMe, a hardware maker which sells a sensor that clips onto existing meters and connects to a home broadband connection. In both cases, users are able to read full electricity usage data on company servers.

Now, however, such customers can also see the information on their iGoogle homepage if they so choose. Any user of Google online services - eg GMail - has such a homepage, even if they never normally look at it.

There are other ways to view one's home electricity consumption online - it is quite possible for the tech-savvy to put meter data on servers running on their own equipment, and so avoid disclosing the information to companies who might use it to make money.

There will also soon be competition for Google from Microsoft, whose Hohm kit is in US beta. Hohm will monitor gas usage as well as 'leccy, potentially an attractive feature for UK customers, who typically use more kilowatt-hours of gas than they do of electricity.

Google insists that PowerMeter is "a project of Google.org, Google's philanthropic arm, which aspires to leverage the power of information and technology to address global challenges". As such it would have nothing to do with ad revenues, though of course the iGoogle page - possibly now a bit more attractive, having been fattened-up with PowerMeter info - tends to direct user eyeballs towards money-making search results.

At the moment, Google keeps a PowerMeter user's data compartmented. However Jens Redmer, a Google business development executive (not a Google.org person) tells the Guardian of future social-network-type aspirations:

"In the future, one new feature could be friendly competition – why can't I challenge my friends to say I'll save 10% over a year, and then trigger alerts when they're falling behind, so I could ping them to encourage them?"

AlertMe tells the Reg that its relationship with Google "is not a paid-for partnership", perhaps suggesting a sad lack of commercial acumen at the company, and confirmed that customers had to opt-in before Google could access their data.

As for first:utility, they confirm that their customers must also opt-in before Google can get its mitts on their data. On the question of revenue we're still waiting on an answer - we'll update this as soon as we have it. ®

Update

first:utility have now been in touch to say that Google isn't paying for access to its customers' information either. Slick work by the ads colossus.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.