A global provider of positioning and wireless communication technologies, u-blox, is developing a way to make it easier for utility customers to track and visualise their energy consumption. The proof of concept (PoC) design is the result of a three-way collaboration between u-blox and metering companies Iskraemeco and EMH.
The PoC design uses a Bluetooth low energy (BLE) interface to connect a smart meter to a consumer’s smartphone or tablet. The mobile device can then provide a more detailed visualisation of current and historical energy consumption than is possible on the simple displays used in smart meters.
This PoC will demonstrate an easy way for customer to get current information about their consumption in a secure and reliable way, especially from meters located in cramped utility cupboards or outdoor cabinets. From a utility point of view, using standardised technologies like Bluetooth allows the implementation of an interoperable and cost effective solution.
The PoC has been developed as a response to utilities that require smart meters to offer users a simple and efficient way of visualising their consumption of electricity, including their historical usage, without using any additional equipment. The existing displays used on electricity meters are not optimal for this sort of visualisation. A smartphone or tablet app, accessing the data over Bluetooth low energy, will be able to present the data in more compelling ways, which will help consumers understand and adopt their usage patterns.
“We expect that demonstrating the PoC will result in BLE being established as the interface required in all future smart meters,” said Stefan Berggren, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Product Center Short Range Radio, u-blox. “The inclusion of a Bluetooth low energy interface will also make it possible for smart meters to connect into a local Smart Home environment that could enable value-added services, such as temperature and humidity monitoring for customer locations and second homes.”
BLE’s support for mesh networking will also make it possible to extend the range of the smart meter’s connectivity through intermediate devices, such as installed sensors, so that users can query their utility consumption information when they are beyond the usual range of a BLE connection.
To address current concerns about data privacy and security, the PoC uses a secure BLE module from u-blox, which has been designed to industrial standards. Close collaboration with Iskraemeco and EMH facilitated consideration of particular design requirements and security challenges of the metering business.
The PoC will be demonstrated at European Utility Week in Vienna, Austria, from 6th to 8th November.