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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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