‘Futurecasting’ and the Energy Industry

A lot is being said about how the world will change in all aspects of our lives. Futurecasters are envisioning a world where the individual will be at the center of products and services that fully understand what we want and need at a level that is far more intuitive than we can even begin to imagine now.

It is exciting to realize we cannot even begin to imagine how the world will look in a few short years. One thing I do know is that a sector that is already changing but that has to change even more is the energy industry (one that is dear and near to my heart). With advancements in things like sensor technologies (as seen everywhere at CES currently happening in Las Vegas) the energy industry will be faced with a decision to incorporate some of these technologies in equipment that generate/deliver energy and products that utilize energy in our homes.

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A recent Pew Internet and American Life Project Research paper on ‘Smart Systems’ has some quotes from said ‘futurecasters’ pointing to the coming age of these products and devices that will dramatically change the way we consume and engage with energy (amongst other things). Some quotes below:

The home isn’t the real locus of change. It’s the smartphone with its apps. “The Home of the Future will be a mobile home. That is, everything that people need to be connected and efficiently manage utilities, shopping, communications, and everyday life matters will be accessible anywhere they are via a mobile device and their mobile or Wi-Fi provider. This is unlikely to be ubiquitous by 2020, and the wired-up smart homes envisaged a decade ago are only practicable for new builds. In time, the only thing a household will need is broadband Wi-Fi point of connectivity,” said Jane Vincent, visiting faculty fellow at the University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre.

All product/service providers will have access to data that enables them to fully personalize their products/services to give us exactly what we want. And we will control all these things (including our energy usage) from our mobile phones.  That is already happening now and with the increasing rollout of smart meters (and improved ones at that) it will be more ubiquitous.

When smart systems are adopted, an essential driver will be the difference they will make in energy costs and environmental sustainability. “Homes will get more efficient because it will cost more and more to waste energy. The devices will become simpler because no one likes being outsmarted by their thermostat,” said David Weinberger, a senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

I cannot wait for the future. But I guess I have no choice but to wait since no one has made a time machine just yet…

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