Home automation winners at Showstoppers

A joule of an idea.

The essence of genius is turning complex and confusing concepts into elegant simplicity. The Energy Joule manages the trick of taking your home's energy usage, benchmarking it against often byzantine electric utility rate pricing and distilling the result down to a simple glowing light.

Ambient Devices sells it to electric utilities, who in turn provide it to their customers. The idea is to give instant, easy to understand information about what it's costing to keep the lights and everything else on, so consumers can keep their bills down and utilities can spread out their load.

It connects to a smart electric meter at a consumer's home via a ZigBee radio, and reads both electric usage and the rate information that the utility pushes out. The Energy Joule then calculates cost. If it's high at the moment, it glows red. If it's in the economical zone, it turns green.

Other home automation and information devices on display at the Showstoppers press event at CES tonight included a smart oven and a networked video monitor.

Samsung has partnered with iWatchLife to offer realtime analysis of video streamed from a WiFi enabled camera. For $5 a month, the service monitors the feed from as many cameras as you want to install and looks for anomalies. When it spots something odd, it notifies you and starts recording. It has a five second buffer so you can see what triggered its interest.

Dacor has a programmable oven with what amounts to a built in Android tablet. It links via WiFi to your home Internet connection, and then on to a server. You can program in cooking instructions or just tell it what you're trying to cook and how much of it, and it'll do the rest. It comes with Android and iOS apps that also talk to the server and can remotely monitor and control the oven. It doesn't talk directly to the apps, though. No Internet connection, no remote control.