Take two controversial technologies, put them together, and what do you get? Hopefully it’s not wide-ensuing panic!
News this week of two companies combining smart meters with NFC (near-field communication) technology has me intrigued. Naturally there is the technology aspect that has me curious as to just exactly how this will work; but I am also intrigued to see how the public reacts to such an announcement.
The reason is that smart meters haven’t exactly been well embraced by the American public thus far. Rollouts across the country have been met with concerns from the public regarding data security, privacy issues, and even health concerns related to the radiation emissions from these meters. Then you have NFC. The idea of making a mobile payment via your smartphone, while exciting to some, is terrifying to those who live in constant fear of privacy and security matters.
Regardless of whether or not these concerns are validated, the fact is they are present in a percentage of the population. By bringing the two together, you might have a great solution, but all that can be proven moot if the companies behind this idea are not out in front, educating the consumer on the matter.
For those that haven’t heard, here is the news: NXP Semiconductors N.V., and Landis+Gyr are planning to showcase smart meters with integrated NFC technology that will allow authorized utilities and consumers to access and read smart meter data in realtime using a smartphone. The demonstration is happening this week at the Metering Europe event in Amsterdam.
A few things to note about the demonstration: It will show how an NFC handset can be used to visualize current and historical energy consumption based on data stored in the meter via a mobile app; and in terms of security, the companies plan to demonstrate how an embedded secure element in NFC handsets can be used to manage the privacy of individual households, yet at the same time provide the right level of access for installation and service technicians
The companies say they envision NFC solutions tailored specifically for the smart meter, such as enabling secure pre-payment via NFC-enabled phones and even equipping consumers with mobile apps for personal energy management.
I am not sure how far away something like this is from being reality from a technology standpoint, but from a consumer adoption standpoint it might be a tough sell upfront. I am not saying this isn’t a great idea—that is still yet to be determined following this week’s demonstration. All I am saying is that when you bring two controversial technologies together you will have some folks that absolutely love it and others that will be very reticent to embrace it. As with any type of connected device, the key here will be education and communication on the part of the technology providers, utilities, and even the carriers. We certainly live in interesting times.