Currant’s Smart Wall Outlet taps AI to reduce energy waste
Thanks to VentureBeat – Home appliances waste more energy than you might think. Incandescent light bulbs consume 20 percent to 80 percent more electricity than energy-efficient alternatives, like compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). A single dishwasher, meanwhile, can draw over 1,800 watts per cycle.
That’s why Hasty Granbery, former director of software engineering at PayPal, in 2015 founded Currant, a Palo Alto startup devoted to creating smart home devices that reduce energy consumption. In November 2018, fresh off a $7 million funding round, Currant debuted its first AI-powered product — the Currant Smart Outlet. And this year, at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in January, it’ll formally unveil the Smart Wall Outlet, an in-wall smart outlet similarly driven by machine learning.
“We are on a mission to help reduce the insanely high levels of energy consumption in the United States,” Granberry said. “To that end, we are thrilled to announce our newest offering in what will be a long line of energy-saving smart home and commercial products.”
Currant says the Smart Wall Outlet, much like the Smart Outlet, was designed by the studio behind the Nest thermostat (Bould Design) and calibrated using high-precision test equipment. It comes in two versions — a 15-amp model designed for the home market and 20-amp commercial variant — that feature duplex tamper-resistant receptacles, and it connects to the internet via a local Wi-Fi or Bluetooth network.
The outlet records electrical usage stats and sends them to a companion smartphone app (on Android and iOS) for AI-driven analysis, which graphs power usage in real time (by hour, day, month, or year), toggles outlet-specific rules that run on a schedule, and offers personalized energy-saving recommendations. There’s no complicated setup or configuration involved — the app detects plugged-in devices and the Smart Wall Outlet automatically.
Perhaps the best thing about the Smart Wall Outlet is that it can be monitored and controlled remotely, beyond the confines of home Wi-Fi. Niftily, it also works with voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home — simple commands switch the Smart Wall Outlet on or off.
Currant isn’t the first to drive power insights with AI, of course. Products like Smappee operate at the fuse box level, and wireless in-wall outlets such as those in ConnectSense’s portfolio offer a degree of control over plugged-in devices through Apple’s HomeKit, IFTTT, and other platforms.
But Granbery contends that when it comes to monitoring, the Smart Wall Outlet leads the way in accuracy because it can detect energy hogs that draw low amounts of power over long periods.
“Currant Smart Outlets will work in essentially every environment — home or commercial space,” Granbery said. “We can help anyone cut energy consumption, save money, and make a positive impact on our world without any inconvenience to their day-to-day lives or activities.”
Alongside the Smart Wall Outlet, Currant today revealed a forthcoming software upgrade for the Smart Outlet that’ll imbue it with new features, one of which locks the outlet so it can’t be turned on or off except through the app. Another new tool will offer alerts that notify you when per-outlet rules take effect, and when plugged-in devices are using power.
Currant has yet to announce pricing for the Smart Wall Outlet but said that it’ll be available for purchase in the coming months.