Tendril's IDEO-Designed Home-Energy Monitoring Device Fails, Utilitarianism Wins

The home energy market is going to be more utilitarian than chic, if Tendril's recent decision to nix its IDEO-designed home energy dashboard is anything to go by.

The rise of the smart grid (or the digital electricity network) over the past few years has led to a burst of creativity from firms angling to capture a piece of the home-energy management market. Apparently, that market is going to be more utilitarian than chic, if Tendril's recent decision to nix its IDEO-designed home energy dashboard is anything to go by.

Tendril first unveiled its Vision display, an 8-inch-by-6-inch device that looks like it came straight from Apple headquarters, last year. The device was intended to anchor to household appliances and show visual cues for different energy events (i.e., peak pricing or low pricing periods).

But the sleek, easy-to-read display won't make it to market due to price constraints. In an interview with Earth2Tech, Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck explained that the majority of utilities won't underwrite the $200 display, and most consumers aren't willing to shell out for the device on top of their iPads, iPhones, and other gadgets. Instead, Tendril will sell a cheaper, low-end energy dashboard.

The moral of the story: Companies that offer energy dashboards for gadgets that consumers already own will probably win out. Because who wants to pay hundreds of dollars for another electronic screen, no matter how attractive it is?

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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3 Comments

  • Pine Brumett

    From Smart Grid to Home Energy Management, the emphasis is on giving control to the electric utility. Here's the deal...Provide a simple display for showing the consumer real-time usage and allow them to alter their habits to conserve. If your kWH cost is .10 and your monthly budget for electricity is $150, you can only consume 1500 kWH per month. All of the systems currently available seem to miss this simple approach. Last thing...$200 before you add on the options!

  • Muris Mulalic

    I agree with the previous post, possibly even an Application to eliminate the hardware necessity?

  • Dan Brantley

    "...most consumers aren't willing to shell out for the device on top of their iPads, iPhones, and other gadgets."
    I think people are actually reluctant to have yet another gadget to attend to. The winner in this space will be a device that interfaces with the above gadgets.