Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Energy, APIs and the Internet.

As mentioned in my last post, we can only go so far in regards to producing enough energy from alternative resources. In this power-hungry world, it's an unfortunate truth. The fortunate truth is that the state of technology has grown exponentially in the past century and we now have the power to look at our energy consumption in ways like never before. Simple meters can be installed and maintained to keep track of how much energy we use, meaning that we can know what we need to change in order to use less energy.

The WattDepot Client is one such technology. Produced by Professor Philip Johnson of University of Hawaii at Manoa, WattDepot is easily configurable to accept input from a variety of energy meters and relay it to those who need to analyze them. As a proof, the current implementation keeps track of energy in one of the most chaotic environments known to man: the college dorm. All kidding aside, the result of such a system is an system that can easily be queried, returning up-to-the-minute information about the energy consumption and production of a particular area.

Energy data manipulation made easy

Using the WattDepot Client API is made incredibly easy. Since it uses the xml-based REST protocol, one can easily use any xml-parsing language to read and generate data. An already-working implementation (in Java) could be found at the wattdepot-simpleapp Google Code page. The included file is a shell app that simply gets the first source returned by the client and calculates its latency. One can easily consult the WattDepot API to find out how to request data from the sources. The basics of it is in the Source and SensorData classes. Each source holds data about its Energy (mW produced/consumed) and Power (energy / time).

One can attain the data of a particular source by passing in the source name and a timestamp (the manipulation of which the included Tstamp class under utils is incredibly helpful with) getting a precise measurement from the source. The result is a huge resource of data that can be queried and sorted according to its energy use, which is used by the Kukui Cup to keep track of which dorm area is most eco-friendly. This technology can be easily applicable to any area be it residential, collegiate or business, meaning that we as a human race can effectively know what and where our energy consumption is going to and how we can change for the better.

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