Optical meter reading device makes analogue meters ‘smart’


EnergyCam_HandGerman smart grid components company Fast Forward AG has launched an add-on to a mechanical utility meter, which claims to give it smart meter reading functionality.

EnergyCam is a small device that can take optical meter readings from electricity, gas or water meters.

The reading is transmitted through a network or wirelessly to a selected gateway, which claims to eliminate the 2-3 per cent error rate that is common to all manual meter reading processes.

Device installation 

The EnergyCam can be installed by the customer and is stuck onto the front of the meter using LED lights to guide it into the correct position.

A built-in camera and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) algorithm reads the meter digits physically, recording a digital image of the current reading every 15 minutes, aided in the dark by built-in LEDs.

Power is provided either through a cable or battery, available in various capacities to last up to 15 years.

Meter data

Data is communicated either wirelessly via an 868MHz Wireless M-Bus that conforms to OMS standards, or via cable and either M-Bus or Modbus technology using RS232, RS485 or USB connectors. Transmitted data is secured using 128-bit AES encryption. Data can also be accessed by the customer via LAN and the selected gateway.

The EnergyCam is available for electricity, gas and water meters and adapters are available to ensure accurate reading of non-standard meters with especially narrow or deep-set counters.

Fast Forward will unveil its new product at the European Utility Week in Amsterdam between 4-6 November.