ZigBee Wi-Fi tech monitors carbon output

Future house
The house of the future may be part of a dung beetle race to the death

In this increasingly environment-aware age we're glad that at least one firm has seen sense and combined the power of ZigBee wireless networking and dung beetles to cut carbon emissions.

NEC is currently using the homes of 100 of its staff in Japan to test a scheme that uses both those splendidly esoteric elements to keep track of domestic energy consumption.

Plug it in

Its 'Carbon Diet' program consists of a monitoring device a participant attaches to his or her home's fuse box and a wireless link from that to a PC and thence online to the mother ship.

The monitor records how much electricity is being used in the house and where the consumption hotspots might be, before sending the data to the PC by ZigBee, the nascent short-range wireless technology.

Carbon footprint

Once that data reaches NEC's servers it is presented back to the user in terms of hourly, daily and monthly power consumption and its carbon-emission equivalent.

A competitive incentive comes in the form of charts comparing all competing households against each other. The idea is, of course, to drive participants to get one over on the Joneses.

Fun with dung

Oh, and the dung beetle? NEC decided that friendly competition might be best represented by each household having its own virtual beetle on the Carbon Diet website.

Whichever rolls its pellet of 'carbon' excreta the furthest is carbon king and gets associated bragging rights. After all, what could be more natural?

J Mark Lytle was an International Editor for TechRadar, based out of Tokyo, who now works as a Script Editor, Consultant at NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Writer, multi-platform journalist, all-round editorial and PR consultant with many years' experience as a professional writer, their bylines include CNN, Snap Media and IDG.