CurrentCost Bridge – Hackless

Since I’d hacked the other one I thought I should try out the device as intended. Ordered from Amazon and the kit arrived promptly. Simple to just plug it all together. Went to register it on my.currentcost.com and had an issue caused by my account having been used with another bridge device. Got some help from @yellowpark and re-registered again. Started working straight away.

In the device panel if a link so that you can activate Google Powermeter. Clicked that and filled in a small form. It then took me back to my my.currentcost.com rather than to google. After googling around for a while I found the powermeter page. Then added it to my igoogle.

What’s really nice about this is that you can also access it from Pachube and from there graph it however you like. In my case I can combine it with gas from another monitoring device to see a more complete picture including outside temperature. (Note: this capability temporarily suspended but I hear it will be back soon.)

I have noticed that my other monitor gives me a significantly different figure for today’s kWh. At first look the CC appears to be under-reading by about 10% – this may be because of the power factor. To be investigated.

Hopefully one of the monitor gadget companies will support pulsed meter connections in due course. Then those who don’t want to design their own graphs can play too.

Rewired State Carbon and Energy Hack Weekend

Although I did not do any of the things I’d thought about recently, I joined up with James, Nigel and Derek and we did SocialMeter, something that I’ve blogged about before but had been a little ahead of it’s time. James proposed it for this weekend and we miraculously formed, in minutes, a highly effective team. Thanks guys for being a pleasure to work with.

The concept is simple. People talk a lot about carbon but don’t do much. It’s no longer a technology problem as there are plenty of data capture solutions out there, notably CurrentCost and Alertme as well as numerous hacks such as those from #homecamp people. The problem is getting around to doing something so this project addresses the issue of motivation by making monitoring a little more fun and thereby giving it greater impact. One solution is what we called SocialMeter.

It looks like this (check back later for better photos):

The solution consists of:

  • Acquiring energy data in real time from a group of friends
  • Translating this to carbon impact numbers (using AMEE)
  • Aggregating and ordering it
  • Presenting it in a compelling way on a a choice of convenient platforms including tablets, phones and conventional browsers

It opens up many social possibilities. My favourite if that the one with the best improvement gets free (low carbon?) beer :-)

By doing this is a modular way using public APIs this is an open-ended solution. What made it feasable was another open API from Pachube which is where meter (and many other kinds of) data is captured. There were enough feeds available there to create a compelling live demo. We also had a £100 tablet (programmed in Processing) and an iPad to demo.

In order to make this viable in practice we need to hook in a social graph to provide permission to view other people’s energy. The demo used twitter or facebook for this and that too is open-ended. Personally, I think I want a restricted social graph for something like this.

For technical reasons this was built on a LAN over the weekend. We have since taken this to another level by putting it in the cloud. An android version is also done (using Titanium so it also runs on iPhone – well, on the emulator).

Many thanks to the Guardian team and other sponsors for this opportunity to get together and do something useful.