Redwood Systems has jumped on the apps bandwagon by opening up its platform to its customers to develop novel applications.
The lighting networks company joins a growing movement in energy efficiency and smart grid to open up streams of data to applications. There seems to be a new clean energy hackathon nearly every month in the U.S., and even the government has gotten on board by sponsoring a recent apps contest that leverages Green Button data.
Redwood Systems is primarily known as a lighting network company, but many of the applications that have already been developed by Redwood’s customers leverage occupancy sensor data.
“We believe occupancy is an untapped area that has huge potential benefits for corporations,” said Sam Klepper, chief marketing officer of Redwood Systems. “We think that’s the biggest, most immediate opportunity.”
For companies, the apps are a way to tie sensor data into the building management system. One customer developed an app to understand how the conference rooms were being used and then set up a digital floor plan so that staff can see which rooms are in use instead of walking around aimlessly looking for a meeting space.
Cadmus Group, a consulting firm, developed an application to merge occupancy data with energy consumption from other systems into one single dashboard to guide their clients into how to make their business more efficient. Software giant SAP has also developed an app that integrates Redwood’s data with its Trane HVAC system to adjust the thermostat based on occupancy.
Although occupancy data is the primary data being leveraged, some customers are leveraging the lighting systems. TZ, a data security company, has an app that turns the lights on above the specific cabinets in the data center as personnel unlock them.
Klepper said that security is one area where lighting apps make sense; for instance, there could be an application showing if a door is opened when it shouldn’t be.
Currently, the platform is only open to customers, although it will be available to any third party at the end of the year. “We felt it was a way to add value overall and accelerate innovation,” said Klepper.
Application platforms are popping up all over the place, although the concept has not caught on with the lighting sector yet. Tendril, for example, has an apps platform in the U.S. and Europe. Verdeeco wants to sell to utilities so they don’t have to build apps themselves. And apps aren’t just for buildings. Car makers are also opening APIs for electric vehicles.
Redwood is opening up its platform as it expands into Europe. The Fremont, Calif.-based company recently raised $11.75 million, bringing the total to about $30 million since 2008. The money will be used to push into Asia and to build out the platform for third-party developers to leverage. “We’re investing heavily in this area,” said Klepper, “and we’re not just talking about it.”