Clever start-up creates tech that makes smart meters smarter

14 Oct 2011

Wattics team with system: Seamus Porter, Anthony Schoofs, Alex Sinton and Antonio Ruzzelli

Wattics, an innovative young company that has spun out of the Clarity Centre at UCD has developed a new technology that could revolutionise building maintenance by analysing electricity wires and pinpointing the devices that are eating up electricity.

The company, which is self-funded so far through revenues and which is developing a customer base locally in Ireland, as well as on mainland Europe, won the Globe Research Award 2011 for the most original and challenging research in the sustainability field.

The company’s co-founder and CEO Antonio Ruzzelli told that the company has created a device that can clip onto any off-the-shelf smart meter for a home, office building, apartment building or factory and can diagnose power usage and ultimately save bill payers thousands off their bills.

“The device clips onto the distribution board and our software is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that takes power signatures. The device can basically read the wire and understand what has been powered on and off on the network and can break down consumption by understanding how each device signature combines with other signatures.”

Global lP licence

Ruzzelli said the technology was developed in-house at the Clarity Centre and is licensed from UCD globally and exclusively to Wattics.

He gave an example of a situation where the Wattics technology was able to notify a facilities manager that a water booster pump was over sized and therefore not efficient, costing the company thousands per month in electricity.

“A follow-up visit found that the variable speed drive was faulty and wasn’t slowing down the pump. Once the drive had failed, our technology sent an SMS to the manager. Adjusting the inverter allowed the maintenance manager to save thousands and prevent the pump from being replaced. That’s a basic example of how appliance management can help businesses.”

So far, Wattics has won business with a number of hotels, shopping centres, indigenous firms and multinationals.

The company has so far been funded from revenues and the founders’ own resources and is on the lookout for an injection of venture capital to speed up its international expansion.

“The global opportunity is immense. Wattics is just scratching the surface. We are getting calls from various industries, such as the hotel industry, the fish processing industry, the dairy co-op business – all of these are firms that are consuming a lot of energy and want to reduce the amount of money they are spending on electricity.”

Ruzzelli said the company is already selling to customers in Switzerland and has a few pending projects for public buildings in Italy.

“We are finding that legislative changes, such as the new carbon tax laws in the UK, are also a critical driver for demand for our technology.

“The key here is our technology is meter agnostic. We take data from smart meters and make them smarter,” Ruzzelli said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years