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Big Data

Power With A Purpose: This Startup Is Building The Internet Of Energy

Tomas Kellner
April 21, 2016
There are no dumb bricks in John Gordon’s world, only buildings with the potential to be intelligent. “If you deploy smart lights with sensors to gather data and digitize the energy system, you’ll end up with a nervous system running through the whole building,” he says. “The benefits in terms of savings and productivity can be enormous.”
Gordon is the chief digital officer of a business called Current, powered by GE. The startup, launched by GE last year, pairs smart hardware like LEDs and solar panels with software. It’s using data to get insights and change how we use energy. Current’s “intelligent” LED streetlights are already collecting electricity-usage data in San Diego and Jacksonville.

Today, the company acquired Daintree Networks, which designs open and scalable wireless networks that collect data from smart lights and energy systems like HVACs inside buildings to make shops, offices and factories more efficient.

“By integrating intelligent lighting that can tell us what is happening within a business, with infrastructure to control energy production and use, we can optimize energy use in exactly the way needed to help a business succeed,” Gordon says. “We will give power a purpose, where the purpose is to grow your business, and stop treating it as a cost. We want to give businesses all the energy they need without having them pay for one kilowatt more.”

John Gordon “We will give power a purpose, where the purpose is to grow your business," says Current's John Gordon. Image credit: Current Top illustration credit: Getty Images

Gordon says the opportunity is huge. The vast majority of small and mid-sized commercial buildings do not have building automation systems in place. Linking Daintree’s open-standard wireless systems to GE’s Predix – the cloud-based software platform for the Industrial Internet – could spark a data revolution.

Daintree technology uses the open communication protocol ZigBee. It can collect data from pretty much any type of sensor. At the same time, software developers and customers will be able to use data coming out at the other end, from Predix, to build their own apps to optimize their buildings. “With Daintree, we will have open data at the bottom as well as at the top,” Gordon says. “Predix is the connective tissue.”

So much so that the Current will be able to link into the systems distributed sources of energy like solar power and allow customers to use their own electricity when doing so makes economic sense. “Daintree and Current technology, combined with Predix, provide exactly the open, scalable infrastructure that allows our customers to get value today,” Gordon says. “At the same time, it preserves their ability to add new technology or solutions as new innovations develop.”

Gordon believes that within a year, “Intelligent lighting and intelligent energy will become a norm. They will change how leaders see things. Energy will become an opportunity.”