Watteco, a System on Chip (SoC) manufacturer has developed a unique Power Line Communication solution for the Smart Energy Command & Control Market (Home Control and Street Lighting). This technology meets today the future market requirements in term of Low Power, Small Size and Low Bill of Material.

AltEnergyMag Interview - Home Control and Energy Savings

Didier Boivin | Watteco

Please explain what breakthroughs Watteco's technology will bring to the home control and automation market?
Watteco’s Watt Pulse Communications (WPC™) power line communication (PLC) module is the only low power solution for the home energy command and control market to support the development of a two-way, end-to-end communications fabric for the world’s electricity system based on Internet Protocol (IP) standards. It is directly installed on existing indoor/outdoor electricity wire and delivers a low-cost, compact, extremely robust solution for manage and streamline energy usage while enhancing home comfort and security.

What technology is Watteco using in their latest products and how does it work?
Our WPC module at the PHY level, unlike other traditional PLC systems which inject energy in the form of carriers, uses the resonance frequencies of the Grid to communicate with electromagnetic pulses. Due to its unique way to interface to the powerline, our WPC solution is low power and also low cost as there is no need for external components such as analog front end or transformers to connect to the line.

At the system level, our WPC module enables IPv6 packets to be carried on top of low-power wireless networks in the Smart Grid, specifically those implementing the IEEE 802.15.4 standard for wirelessly monitoring and controlling lights, security alarms, motion sensors, thermostats, smoke detectors and other devices.

How will consumers be able to use Watteco's technology to better manage energy consumption in the home?
One example of how Watteco’s technology will be used is in Advanced Metering infrastructure (AMI), also called smart meters, in-home load-shedding, solar panel monitoring solutions that leverage the power of IP protocols to help consumers cut their energy bills while reducing on-site utility inspections and enabling digital outage tracking.  Watteco’s technology has just one hundredth of the real power requirements of alternative PLC and other solutions. Other consumer applications of the technology include home command and control systems that handle functions such as lighting, shutters/blinds and alarm and access. 

What are some typical products that would be connected via Watteco technology to save energy use? 
Typical products include Smart meters that manage home appliances according to the Grid’s available resources, and intelligent consumption systems that enable IP-based communication between devices and the utility control cente

What is the growth potential for the home control/automation market?
According to ABI Research, "two new approaches to home automation – 'mainstream' systems based on standardized technologies and packaged components, and home automation as a managed service offered through a broadband or wireless service provider – have the potential for such broad market appeal that new research forecasts shipments to grow more than 50-fold between 2007 and 2013."

The research firm added that "home automation systems are becoming more mainstream and managed services are growing which will appeal to a much wider public."

What are the energy cost savings from a typical smart home, and what are the savings implication nationwide?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) in its publication entitled, “The Smart Grid:  An Introduction,” a less centralized, more consumer-interactive two-way Smart Grid is expected to ease congestion and increase utilization (of full capacity), sending 50 percent to 300 percent more electricity through existing corridors. Another DoE study projects energy savings of 5 percent to 15 percent from smart grid. The DoE has said that a grid efficiency improvement of even 5 percent will equate to permanently eliminating the fuel and greenhouse gas emissions from 53 million cars.

What is Watteco's next generation of products going to be capable of in the energy management field?
Systems today for the different smart energy solutions are still not optimized in term of integration of the various features. There will be a market need to support a complete solution, which can include as an example some metering functions. Moving forward, a System-on-Chip (SoC) approach will be the trend and Watteco will follow that trend with by offering very low power solutions.


Didier Boivin

Marketing Vice President

Didier Boivin, a U.S. semiconductor industry veteran, brings to Watteco more than 25 years of entrepreneurial and multinational company experience with extensive background in broadband, wireless and consumer market segments. Prior to joining Watteco, Didier was marketing vice president for Centillium Communications. He also has North American executive experience with companies such as 3DSP, DSP Group VoicePump subsidiary, and Alcatel Microelectronics. In addition, Mr. Boivin held various marketing and engineering positions at Rockwell Semiconductor Systems, in US, TRT France and Alcatel Telic France. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the Ecole Centrale d'Electronique in Paris and his Executive M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Dallas.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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