Philips and Berkeley Lab Take on Smart Energy at Home

While electronics maker Philips (s PHG) is working on getting its LEDs into homes, the company is also starting to focus on the bigger picture of energy-efficient homes. The Amsterdam-based company announced a new partnership this week with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to jointly research energy-efficiency solutions for buildings. Improving lighting efficiency using integrated smart wireless devices will be the partnership’s first objective, and consumers could see a commercial product as soon as next year, Philips says.

This is a great partnership that could help deliver the next generation smart home. Philips is one of the world’s largest producers of lighting and has been pushing hard to bring LEDs to the mass market. Meanwhile, Berkeley National Lab has been researching smart energy for homes and buildings at its Environmental Energy Technologies Division.

Nothing they are proposing is that groundbreaking — there have been motion sensors to control lights for years — but this news shows that device makers like Philips are starting to “get it.” Philips is starting with lighting and building systems, but hopefully it won’t take long for them to smarten up their whole line of electronics, everything from the giant flat-screen TVs down to the Sonicare toothbrushes.

This could prove to be both competition and a strong new partner for the startups developing energy efficiency devices for the home. The Dutch electronics giant has been buying up LED companies — perhaps smart energy startups are next.

If you found this post interesting you might also be interested in Earth2Tech’s first Briefing, The Smart Energy Home.

Blue Mars: Second Life With Pro-Level Content

avatar-reality-office.jpgWhen you’re building a virtual world paradise, does it help to do so from an actual one? That was my first thought after reading about Avatar Reality, a startup based in Oahu, Hawaii (the pic is Honolulu’s Aloha Tower as seen from the founder’s office.) Tomorrow the company will sneak preview Blue Mars, its upcoming “3D casual game” MMO, at GDC in San Francisco. I’m from Hawaii, so during a January stay, I caught an advance demo.

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