Playa Vista, California-based Belkin International, an electronics firm, has acquired the Atlanta-based research startup company Zensi that tracks water and electricity consumption using a simple technology.
Belkin expects that a product based on this technology will be available in two years. This technology is based on the ‘electrical signal disaggregation’ concept for tracking the electrical activity in a point, subsequently teasing out the signal for indicating if power is fed into a light bulb, TV, or a refrigerator. The technique also makes it possible to differentiate between power consumption in two bulbs.
The technology was built up on a thesis research by Zensi co-founder Shwetak Patel during his doctorate program in the Georgia Institute of Technology. Zensi was co-founded by Patel while he was working on this program. Zensi had licensed the technology through the research group of Patel at the University of Washington (UW). At that time he was the UW computer science and engineering and electrical departments’ assistant professor.
Subsequently, the UW doctoral students of the Patel group continued the research and collaborated with UW’s assistant professor in computer science and engineering James Fogarty for extending the application of the concept for water sensing. Other Zensi co-founders include Duke University’s assistant professor Matthew Reynolds, Georgia Tech’s computing professor and thesis advisor for Patel, Gregory Abowd, and Abowd’s group doctoral student Erich Stuntebeck.
Belkin’s CEO and President, Mark Reynoso, is thrilled that his company’s vision will help people in making more informed and better decisions related to their energy utilization.
Patel said the acquisition would hopefully demonstrate the manner in which the academic research reaches the ultimate consumer. After the achievement in the energy domain, Patel will be exploring health care applications for this technology.