German energy giant E.ON has teamed with Microsoft to launch what it claims will be “the next step in smart home technology”.
The companies have developed the Energy Management Box for domestic use, that will combine data from all electrical devices – including heating and cooling systems, PV installations, battery storage or chargers for electric vehicles – on a single platform, which can be operated via a single dashboard.
Currently, different generators and systems in the home are controlled by individual apps that are incompatible with one another.
E.ON said that by using artificial intelligence and Internet of Things technology, the control platform will be “constantly learning and able to develop into a personal assistant”.
The company even claims that the controller “will be able to predict when its residents are due to come home, and then set the desired room temperature in advance”.
E.ON board member Karsten Wildberger said: “Digitization, IoT and artificial intelligence provide us with new opportunities to offer customers increased efficiency and convenience. As a result of our collaboration with Microsoft, we are set to make a step change in the intelligent home sector.”
“We are presenting a solution that takes all aspects of managing energy at home to a new level. Our solution is based on state of the art technology and will undergo continuous development.”
He explained that with the new technology, homeowners “are also able to control energy consumption in such a way that ensures that only self-generated electricity is used, whenever possible. It will even allow excess electricity from an EV battery or PV system to be traded on the market if prices are high and trading would be beneficial for the homeowner.”
He added that the system is also able to recognize when cheap renewable power is available from the grid, should the electricity produced within the home be insufficient.
The first version of the new product will go to market at the start of next year.
Galen Hunt, managing director of Microsoft Azure Sphere, said the collaboration with E.ON is “enabling a future of energy management built on a foundation of secure devices and cloud infrastructure”.
“Deploying only highly-secure devices is critical to earning and maintaining the trust of customers. Our collaboration will help ensure the devices across E.ON’s new Home Energy Management solution meet the highest standards of security available.”
He stressed that as vast amounts of information are stored and encrypted in each home’s Energy Management Box, data security is at the core. The data is protected by Microsoft Azure Sphere, Microsoft’s solution for securing devices connected to the internet.
Azure Sphere is made up of three components: Azure Sphere-certified microcontrollers; Azure Sphere OS, an operating system specially developed for secure IoT applications; and Azure Sphere Security Service, a turnkey cloud service that provides ongoing security updates to connected devices to ensure they remain secured as threats evolve. Hunt said that this central connection “guarantees that the entire system is much less susceptible to external attacks”.
Digitalization and smart home technology will both be tackled in depth at European Utility Week in Vienna in November. Click here to find out more and register.