You might not be aware, but there's an energy revolution taking place right under our noses. Homeowners are becoming power producers, we're fueling more vehicles with electricity at the home, and control of temperature and lighting and appliances has become more dynamic and controllable to save energy, just to name a few examples.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has quietly become one of the central players in this energy revolution and could play a key roll in controlling energy use in the future.
Apple and the future of energy
What Apple did with the iPhone, iPad, and App Store -- whether intentional or not -- is create a platform for third party product makers to control newly connective devices. Instead of having dozens of switches for new devices around the home we can often interact with those devices with apps on our Apple products.
In energy, this opened the door to new innovations like smart thermostats, energy monitoring, and smart charging of electric vehicles. Those products were the first step and as new energy sources like rooftop solar are installed on millions of rooftops across the country and energy storage options grow, our interaction with energy is fundamentally changing. No longer will we turn on a light switch and not know where the power is coming from, now we're part of the ecosystem and Apple plays a key role in that.
HomeKit brings energy solutions together
One of the underappreciated features of Apple's recent iOS 8 update was the announcement of HomeKit, an app that will integrate multiple third party devices into a single control panel. You can set your home to "away" to make sure TVs and lights are off, doors are locked, and the garage door is closed, saving energy and increasing security.
But we can also now begin monitoring where energy is coming from and when it's being used. What's incredible is that Apple Watch may actually play a key roll in that dynamic.
How the Apple Watch plays into energy
While commentators are trying to imagine how consumers are going to find utility in the Apple Watch, companies are finding solutions to problems we are only now realizing existed. Here are just a few of the notable companies working on Apple Watch apps today.
- BMW i- This new app from BMW will let you know how much charge your BMW EV has, your range, whether doors are locked, and even where your car is all from a small display on your wrist. And this is even before the Apple Watch is launched.
- Honeywell Lyric- Smart meters have been around for years, but the Apple Watch could take control and function to the next level. Honeywell's Lyric smart meter is looking at adding a geofencing control that would send a push notification to your Apple Watch that confirms you left the house and want to set your house to "away" mode. This could save energy and improve performance of new products like energy storage.
- Lutron Caseta- Similar to the smart meter, lighting apps like Caseta from Lutron could change the way we look at lighting. Whether it's making sure the lights are off when you leave home or dimming lights to the mood of the evening, Lutron is bringing the capability to do it all with Apple Watch.
Keep in mind that these apps are just scratching the surface of development for both HomeKit and Apple Watch. As more developers get their hands on the SDK and make products for Apple devices the products will change and evolve, but we know it'll bring more control to our energy future, all from the comfort of our wrist.
An immersive energy experience
You can see above that the way we interact with energy is about to change, and Apple Watch could play a central role in that evolution. The impact that solar energy, electric vehicles, and demand response have could be revolutionary considering that we're now involved in how we generate, store, and use electricity.
The energy industry of a decade from now will look scarcely like the energy industry of just a few years ago. Who would have thought that Apple would play a key role in that?
Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Apple and SunPower and is personally long shares and options of SunPower. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.