Another small step for empowered and open access to energy data. Search engine giant Google announced on Wednesday that it has released the API (application programming interface) for its energy tool PowerMeter. Opening up the API means that gadget makers can now freely integrate with PowerMeter — previously Google had only been working with a small amount of select device manufacturers for PowerMeter like Energy Inc’s The Energy Detective.
Google had been planning on opening up the PowerMeter API since the energy tool’s inception a year ago, but the process often takes some time to make sure the tool is ready. Srikanth Rajagopalan, PowerMeter Product Manager, told me in an interview that the PowerMeter API has been ready for awhile but that the team had been collecting and incorporating feedback from the first device partners.
Rajagopalan tells me that Google has put a strong emphasis on security and privacy into the API. For example, there are specific steps for authorizing a home energy device so that it can “talk” to Google PowerMeter. The device makers will also need to educate the end user on how to feel comfortable with connecting the energy data with third parties like PowerMeter, said Rajagopalan.
Google’s decision to release its PowerMeter API is representative of a small number of companies that have moved into the home energy management space from the web and are looking to tap into the innovation of the Internet and the ecosystem of third party developers for energy. Microsoft released its software development kit for its energy tool Hohm to developers recently and is expecting to have the first Hohm-integrated devices this summer. (At our Green:Net conference on April 29 in San Francisco, I’ll be interviewing Ed Lu Program Manager in Advanced Projects for Google and Troy Batterberry Product Unit Manager for Microsoft Hohm, on stage about why the Internet giants are getting into energy. Super saver ticket sales for Green:Net end this Friday).
Energy dashboard makers like Tendril are also offering open APIs that will enable third-party developers to make innovative applications based around energy data. At the AlwaysOn Going Green conference in mid September Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck briefly discussed a computer game that was being built around Tendril’s API that will use a character whose powers will be based on how much energy the players saves in his/her daily life.
For Google, releasing PowerMeter’s API will hopefully bring in more end users via new gadget partners. PowerMeter only has “a few thousand users at this point” Google told us recently. And opening up the API will also allow third party developers to “innovate in the field,” as Rajagopalan explained it. The mantra of Internet development is that the developer community will be able to create innovation far beyond what the companies can do in house. It will be the same for innovating around energy data.