Tablets or just gadgets in the broad sense that do our work is finally coming close to being a reality especially with the Cisco tablet that has been released recently. Seated at just one single area of the house, the tablet provides the user with complete control of all the other utility items in the house. Named the Cisco Home Energy Controller, the tablet is an even more specialized product from Cisco that comes hot on the heels of the other tablet offering from the same company in the form of the Cius that has been built purely with a business scenario in mind. This one is more focused towards monitoring the electricity usage of all the gadgets in the home from a single location while also suggesting means that will lead to optimum usage of electricity.The launch of the tablet can be seen as an extension of Cisco’s Home Energy Management Solution Suite which is a part of its Connected Grid portfolio of smart grid products as well as technologies that it had recently unveiled.
A 7 inch screen with a resolution of 800 x 480 forms the main display area of the tablet. The screen is capacitive and incorporates touch screen features. An Intel Atom processor with a clock speed of 1.1GHz provides the Home Energy Controller tablet with its computing power and runs the open source Linux operating system.
The way the tablet works is this: the tablet connects to smart thermostats and appliances via 802.11n WiFi or gigabit Ethernet connection so as to form a successful interconnected web. It then allows the user to view on its screen which device is consuming how much of power. Based on this, the tablet in turn will allow the user to decide which of the gadgets needed to be turned off or slowed down in order to save power. The device itself can suggest methods for optimum usage of power. For instance, with the air conditioning on during summer, the lights can be dimmed a bit to conserve electricity and hence, save money. The appliances that need to be monitored also have to be compatible to this device. In any case, the Home Energy Controller is a far cry and a lot more sci-fi in comparison to the current practice of monitoring electricity usage by sensing the rotation of a thin disc inside a meter placed on the exterior of the house and rotates as per the power consumption that is taking place in the house.
“With its simple and elegant user interface, the Cisco Home Energy Controller is like a virtual energy assistant for consumers, giving them valuable information about, and more discretion over, their energy use,” says the general manager of Cisco Smart Grid, Paul Fulton.
But then, the Cisco Home Energy Controller is not only about saving electricity, for the tablet can also playback videos via Mediafly. Then there’s also a dedicated application store to pick up applications from while it is also rumored the tablet can be used for VoIP processes as well.
Price for installation is likely to be around $900 per installation at home though there are expectations the cost will drop down further with subsidies from power companies. And if there are federal tax credits, things can be even more juicy. But in any case, the cost should be offset by the reduction in power bill. So there are savings to be made whichever way you look at it.