Consortium to develop smart meter-based applications for the healthcare sector


A consortium of companies has launched a £2.3 million initiative to use smart metering technology to develop future applications and services, focussing initially on telehealth.

Named Project Hydra, the project will examine the potential applications for the new communication infrastructure that will be created by the emergence of the smart grid. It is based on the view that multiple secure applications deployed onto a smart meter could enhance the lives of consumers by delivering services directly into their homes.

In the healthcare sector, for example, by providing a secure wireless method of sending information on health issues such as a person’s weight and blood pressure to their healthcare professional, the technology could decrease the need for patients to go for regular checkups.

Not only could this improve the quality of healthcare provision, but it could mean that both patients and healthcare professionals would be able to avoid the cost and inconvenience of hospital or house visits.

Half the funding for Project Hydra, £1.15 million, is being provided by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with a further investment of £1.15m from the consortium partners.

The consortium, which is led by customer intelligence solutions provider Onzo, includes Scottish and Southern Energy, Echelon Corporation, Silver Spring Networks, Philips Applied Technologies, Atmel Corporation, Brunel University, Chorleywood Health Centre, and life science investment company Innova Partnerships.

Project Hydra will develop smart meters, or devices that connect to smart meters, to utilise the smart meter communications channel for telehealth, as well as open architecture standards that will allow telehealth devices from different suppliers to interoperate and new services with end-to-end connectivity to be added on demand. In addition it will explore the use of the smart meter wireless communications network to allow people to be located while preserving their privacy.

The project is expected to run through December 2011.