Google: We're Gonna Turn It On. We're Gonna Bring You the Power.
When Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in 2005, “We are moving to a Google that knows more about you,” he wasn’t kidding. Just four years later and the company is learning about us from a host of online services that extend far beyond the simple search application at the center of Google’s business: email, chat, video, news, books, calendaring, location and now, personal energy usage patterns as well. This morning, the company announced Google PowerMeter, an application that will let consumers to track their electricity consumption.
Integrated into Google’s iGoogle platform, PowerMeter works with the so-called “smart grid” to show a granular, real-time view of electricity-consuming devices–the theory being that seeing your energy usage makes it easier to reduce it.
“Our lack of knowledge about our own energy usage is a huge problem, but also a huge opportunity for us all to save money and fight global warming by reducing our power usage,” the company explains. “Studies show that access to your household’s personal energy information is likely to save you between 5–15% on your monthly bill, and the potential impact of large numbers of people achieving similar efficiencies is even more exciting. For every six households that save 10% on electricity, for instance, we reduce carbon emissions as much as taking one conventional car off the road.”
Like many Google (GOOG) initiatives, PowerMeter is giddy with change-the-world altruism. And change the world it may. But like many Google initiatives, there’s a trade-off: the disclosure of increasingly more information about our predilections, our interests and habits to a company that’s amassing a vast data set about customer behavior.