People Power supports 'green' wireless apps

Start-up People Power this week is introducing a wireless application development platform that is centered on home deployments and the green technology market, but also can be applied to commercial offices. The company's SuRF (Sensor Ultra Radio Frequency) Developer's Kit is being rolled out Monday for embedded systems developers. It features a system-on-a-chip based on the TI CC430 chip and works with Open Source Home Area Network (OSHAN) technology. OSHAN features an open-source operating system based on TinyOS and a network stack based on IPv6.

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"[SuRF) combines processor and radio on a single chip," said Gene Wang, CEO of People Power. The technology is geared toward applications to help reduce energy consumption in homes and other buildings.

"Developers are going to hopefully help us build the next new green economy," Wang said. SuRF can be used to build applications such as one that regulates power in the home via thermostats controlled through the OSHAN wireless protocol. A server could set temperature ranges and either the utility or the user could control temperatures remotely, Wang explained. Users could, perhaps, control the temperature via an iPhone or browser, he said.

Wang acknowledged that the technology theoretically could be used by a government agency to turn down a household temperature at the agency's whim. This sort of scenario could be on the minds of utilities, he said. "It's something that would be possible to implement with our tools, but that is not really our vision of the future," he said.

Another application would be an intelligent lawn sprinkler that would know when it was raining and make sure the sprinklers do not go on, Wang said. Solar-based applications and systems designed to turn off appliances also are possible.

SuRF applications will be based on the C language. The developer kit costs $150.

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