You know instant messaging has reached a tipping point when appliances get it on the action. Smart grid software company EnerNOC is bringing instant messaging to air conditioners with PowerTalk, a system that uses the XMPP protocol commonly used for messaging services (including GChat), chat rooms, and voice calls. Enernoc’s system lets smart meters, motors, light banks, air conditioners–anything that can connect to smart grid–send status updates to EnerNOC’s network.
Unlike with traditional smart grid technologies where systems read smart meters every few minutes, PowerTalk lets any Internet-enabled device report directly to EnerNOC’s network. It sounds like a trivial difference, but EnerNOC’s believes that its technology will allow the smart grid to become more scalable–instead of having every device on the grid checked at regular intervals, only devices with status changes communicate with a central system.
Eventually, EnerNOC hopes to expand PowerTalk technology to power outage detection. So instead of customers having to call up the power company to report a blackout, the blackout will send an instant message reporting itself to the power company. For now, though, let’s just hope that PowerTalk equipped appliances don’t accidentally end up sending us whiny status updates on GChat.