geo (Green Energy Options Ltd), a Cambridge based technology company with a history of developing energy display devices for utilities, has turned to the tech savvy kickstarter crowd to fine tune and speed up its smart home offering.
The move, which caught our attention, goes some way towards confirming the lack of consumer engagement in the development of these solutions.
Rapid development and agile prototyping
Prior to engaging the kickstarter crowd, geo adopted an agile prototyping model. This allows the company to take feedback from the kickstarter crowd, place it into the roadmap and have a working model in weeks rather than months.
This enables geo to develop solutions far quicker than the current trial model used by most utilities, something which is very important in the fast moving world of consumer electronics. Creating a loyal base of potential customers and receiving real world feedback to evolve and prototype. Simon Anderson, Chief Strategy Officer for geo refers to this crowd as ‘co designers’.
Simplicity, comfort & efficiency will it add up?
Engerati has long argued that the focus on technology, to drive energy savings alone, is wrong. The return on investment for many of these solutions simply do not add up.
Simon Anderson agrees by saying that the initiative is not only about energy savings, it is also about comfort and convenience. Some of the early feedback from the crowd has already pointed in this direction, such as decoupling the thermostat from the switch and creating an independent system which works over the top of existing controls.
This will lead to other benefits such as a home control solution with is easy to set-up, decouple and take with you. This has the potential of opening up a new demographic of energy-conscious tenants.
Can it work?
There is no doubt that the home energy control market is growing. The market has also been littered with unsuccessful utility-centric attempts. This initiative by geo is further proof that the consumer may become less reliant on the energy supplier for smart home solutions. In fact, as we have previously reported and in our opinion, the initiative may prove to be even more successful with less involvement from energy suppliers.
Consumers involved in the prototyping in such an open environment is a novel concept. You can get involved in the geo kickstarter campaign here.