Smart grids are great in theory, but they are virtually useless on the consumer side of things if homeowners don't have easy and comprehensible access to instant energy data. That's where Tendril's Vision display comes in. Tendril's device links directly to the grid to create a meaningful display of energy use and cost.
The 8-inch-by-6-inch display, designed by IDEO for the energy management startup, looks like the kind of thing that might come from Apple--not surprising since IDEO created some of Apple's early products. Tendril's display anchors to household appliances and displays visual cues for different energy events--i.e. peak pricing periods. So, for example, the device's notification of cheap energy at a certain time could cue a homeowner to run the dishwasher or turn on the washing machine to save cash.
Vision's intuitive design isn't an accident. Tendril researched behavior economics as well as "how people interact with their surrounding environment, how they want their energy providers to communicate with them in their homes, and effective methods for promoting behavioral change" before giving IDEO the go-ahead. The result: a clean, easy-to-read interface that people might actually use. And so far, this looks like the front runner for home smart grid energy management devices.