I am a smart home geek. I have all the “smarts”: voice assistant/speaker, security cameras, lighting, fans/air purifiers and a thermostat. My home is cool when I need it to be with reasonable energy efficiency settings and I can turn fans and lights on/off when I am not even home. I have four smartphone apps to manage all of these devices with some ability for my voice assistant/smart speaker to integrate, which I have not yet had time or energy (pun intended) to do. I pay a little extra per month to support bringing renewable energy to my community and dream of owning an electric car someday. I have all of this…but am I really that “smart”? My smart solutions seem disjointed and disconnected.

Some of Itron’s utility customers have started connecting with their consumers in the smart home by using voice assistants/smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home to allow them to receive energy usage information, manage and pay bills, enroll in various utility programs, and communicate other rebates and incentives. Are these devices poised to be the smart customer service representatives of the future? It certainly gives consumers a new way to get relevant information from their utility instantly without needing to log in to a website or app. The smart home device market is saturated with products for lighting, security, appliances and more. Vendors with “hub” capabilities have emerged with bundles of products that can work together seamlessly. Using voice assistants/smart speakers, consumers can even order energy saving equipment directly or through marketplace services. For any devices that can be controlled to conserve energy or water and save consumers money on their bill, you can see the appeal for utilities to have a solid footing in this space.

Even more interesting to utilities are the large energy producing and consuming devices in the smart home. Itron’s Distributed Energy Management group supports utilities with solutions to help them maintain power quality with renewables like wind and solar, coupled with EV chargers and batteries, to balance supply and demand and ensure the right distribution capacity. Add in the use of smart thermostats and load controllers like pool pumps to support demand response and energy efficiency programs, you start getting a sense of what a really “smart” home looks like. Orchestration of resources in the home will only become more critical. Now imagine all of the components in and around the home working together in concert—seamless interoperability, optimization and control is the name of the game. That’s why Itron communications and data management services are built on open standards, and we are constantly growing our ecosystem of technology and service provider partners.

Utilities with the right infrastructure and solutions can transform consumers’ lives in the digital age. Itron provides the backbone to the smart cities, communities and homes we live in. This is Itron’s intelligent vision, which seems way better than just being “smart.”

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Angie Klee on Linkedin
Angie Klee
Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Itron Idea Labs - Itron Idea Labs
Angie Klee is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Itron Idea Labs. She joined two years ago to explore new business opportunities for our utility customers in the Mobile space. She worked closely with Software and Services in 2015-16 to develop an early release of the Itron Mobile app running on Android and iOS. Prior to Itron Idea Labs, Angie worked in leadership roles in product development for start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and as a consultant in organizations around the globe. She lives in Bend, Oregon where she enjoys everything outdoors with her husband and two little boys.