Saturday, June 24, 2017

How a $500 Electric Bill Jolted an AI Startup Into Focusing on Energy Conservation

Mark Chung’s unexpectedly high $500 monthly electric bill zapped his curiosity. So when his Silicon Valley utility couldn’t explain it — despite “smart meters” installed throughout its system — he took matters into his own hands. The Stanford-trained electrical engineer hacked some inexpensive meters from his local hardware store to be wi-fi enabled, and then built an electrical map of his home. They showed that a small failure in his pool pump was causing a massive current overload, which couldn’t have been detected with traditional tools. More importantly, he learned how hard it is to get information from buildings, which typically lack any kind of computerized management. Thus was born the idea for Verdigris, a startup that wants to help conserve energy in buildings using GPU-powered artificial intelligence.