TOKYO-Technology companies in the United States may have curtailed some of their green IT efforts-particularly in the area of energy-consumption monitoring-but it seems those companies' efforts are alive and well in a more international context.
Toshiba and Intel have both used presentations at the CEATEC conference outside of Tokyo to detail their efforts in the energy monitoring, which leverage the cloud to provide real-time data. Toshiba announced during its Oct. 3 event that it had acquired Landis+Gyr, a company specializing in smart-meter technology, as part of its offerings related to smart homes. It is also developing cloud technologies for a variety of verticals ranging from city infrastructure to health.
Intel used its own Oct. 4 presentation to offer a glimpse of an application for monitoring consumption, which gives PC users access to a dashboard with accessible-i.e., cartoonish-graphs and stats related to energy use.
"Smart space" and energy-monitoring technologies aren't new to Intel. As part of his 2010 CES keynote, Intel CEO Paul Otellini demonstrated his company's efforts in the smart-home arena, including ways to manage energy consumption and send content from laptops and PCs to home television screens.
But CEATEC's focus on energy monitoring and smart homes seems particularly auspicious given recent pullbacks in the United States. In June, Microsoft announced that it would discontinue its Hohm energy-monitoring service in May 2012. Hohm, originally launched in July 2009 as part of a larger green-IT initiative that included the company's Environmental Sustainability Dashboard for Microsoft Dynamics AX, took user input about energy choices and made recommendations about how to adjust energy use to save money.
"The feedback from customers and partners had remained encouraging throughout Microsoft Hohm's beta period," read a June 30 posting on Hohm's official blog. "However, due to the slow overall market adoption of the service, we are instead focusing our efforts on products and solutions more capable of supporting long-standing growth within this evolving market."
Google also made the decision to close Google PowerMeter, a Google.org project designed to help consumers track their daily home energy usage in real time from an iGoogle gadget. The service, which launched in February 2009, drew information from a home smart meter.
"We're pleased that PowerMeter has helped demonstrate the importance of this access and created something of a model. However, our efforts have not scaled as quickly as we would like, so we are retiring the service," Google's Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl wrote in a June 24 posting on The Official Google Blog.
However, the CEATEC keynotes and presentations are making clear that Japanese technology companies-and the Japanese branches of global firms-are intensely focused on ways to save and monitor energy usage. The tsunami and earthquake that struck the country earlier this year, and the resulting power-grid issues, also raised awareness of the need for smarter technology and energy efficiency.