RealTime IT News

Microsoft 'Hohm' Taps Azure to Go Green

Microsoft Hohm
Source: Microsoft
Click to enlarge
Microsoft announced the beginning of beta testing for an energy-monitoring service that takes advantage of its Azure cloud computing platform and also ties to power companies' data.

The idea is to enable users to sync up data from their personal energy usage with recommendations on how to cut consumption and lower costs.

Dubbed "Hohm," the service was announced Wednesday by Craig Mundie, Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) chief research and strategy officer.

"Microsoft Hohm demonstrates how a combination of advanced software and Internet-based services can help people track, understand and manage their personal energy usage," Mundie said in a statement.

Besides being built on Microsoft's Azure cloud application platform, Hohm also uses technologies that Microsoft licensed from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy.

In addition, the company said Hohm uses search capabilities provided by Microsoft's newly launched Bing search engine as well as the Microsoft Advertising platform -- though it hasn't detailed how ads will be integrated into the service.

Among the types of recommendations that users who sign up for the beta might receive are suggestions to re-caulk windows, or to replace an analog thermostat with a digital programmable unit, for instance.

Additionally, users can see other useful data, such as comparing their own consumption to others in their area.

And as in the case of Microsoft's HealthVault personal health site, the idea is also to provide a community where users can help each other, share information, and find data related to their own questions.

To date, Microsoft has signed up four regional power companies to participate -- Puget Sound Energy and Seattle City Light in Washington state, Sacramento Municipal Utility District around California's state capital, and Minnesota-based Xcel Energy.

Microsoft has set up a Web site for consumers who are interested in signing up for the beta test of Hohm.