‘Smarter than smart’ energy ‘fingerprinting’

February 23rd, 2017

To improve energy efficiency in homes, commercial buildings and industrial facilities, CSIRO and a West Australian company are working on a ‘cognitive’ metering system that identifies the electrical ‘fingerprint’ of individual appliances.

In this age of digital immersion, an increasing number of smart technologies are entering the marketplace to help consumers, and indeed building owners, to make savings and improve lifestyle and environmental outcomes.

In the energy domain, smart (or intelligent) systems that help reduce energy consumption are a target of R&D activity and they are a focus of innovation in CSIRO’s Energy research.

Although various smart meters are already available for monitoring overall energy use, these meters are typically unable to break information down into enough detail to show consumers where the big savings can be made.

That’s where CSIRO and Fremantle-based start-up Ecocentric come into the picture.

We are working together to further develop a ‘cognitive’ metering system that recognises the electrical ‘fingerprint’ of individual appliances to improve energy efficiency in homes, commercial buildings and industrial facilities, according to  CSIRO Energy Director Karl Rodrigues.

The system based around Ecocentric’s Numen technology will break data down further than smart metering systems to show where and when energy is being used within a given building.

“It’s a smarter than smart system that will enable us see how much energy individual electrical devices are consuming without the burden of individual sub metering hardware,” says Mr Rodrigues.

“Algorithms designed by some of our top scientists recognise the unique energy ‘fingerprint’ generated by electrical devices and show exactly how much energy they’re consuming,” he says.

“This system enables virtual sub-metering that bypasses the need for costly hardware for individual metering of appliances.”

Numen makes use of cloud-based technology which monitors energy use in real time. Analysis of this real time data can help you to identify faults earlier, and prevent energy from being wasted.

“Data collected by our cognitive meters will allow better decision-making about energy conservation and lead to large reductions in cost and carbon emissions for homes and businesses.”

While Numen is commercial-ready now, the partnership with CSIRO will further develop the algorithms for homes and other buildings.

Ecocentric CEO Tim Bray says, “We are is excited by Numen’s commercial prospects, as well as its potential to lower energy use in the built environment.”

“Numen will be a part of Australia’s contribution to a more energy efficient future,” he says.

Under an agreement, Ecocentric will obtain a licence from CSIRO to the cognitive metering technology and work with CSIRO for six years to further refine the system.

“Research like this is helping drive the next wave of productivity and efficiency in energy consumption,” says Dr Rodrigues.

“This is exactly the sort of system that could be developed, tested and refined in a science-backed sustainable urban development like CSIRO Ginninderra.”

Click here for more information on CSIRO energy research.

CSIRO’s Sam West and Ecocentric’s Paul Lyons examine the Numen energy efficiency device.


A ‘cognitive’ metering system can provide the whole picture or profile of a building’s energy use. Source: Ecocentric.


  1. I am very interested in the NUMEN device. Can anybody tell me when and where I could buy one?

    1. Thanks for your comment Steven. As covered in the article, CSIRO is working with Ecocentric over coming years to further develop the cognitive metering software and technology to enable this smarter energy fingerprinting. Ecocentric’s Numen technology has already been developed and you can find out more about that at the link in the article.

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