Friday 7 February 2014

NILM in the New Scientist

A couple of weeks ago, Google acquired Nest, a smart thermostat manufacturer. The Nest thermostat aims to combine manually set temperature preferences with automatically learned household occupancy schedules. The acquisition seemed to prompt a few privacy concerns, given the unification of household occupancy data with the information Google currently stores about its customers. This is where NILM got its mention in the New Scientist, given that private information can also be inferred from household aggregate electricity data. A summary article even referenced research which showed that the film being watched on a plasma TV can be inferred from 2 Hz smart meter data, assuming two 5 minute periods of data can be extracted when no other appliances are changing state. Unfortunately though, none of these articles seemed to mention that such methods would require higher frequency data than will be automatically uploaded to utilities by smart meters, and therefore would require explicit consent from the customer to opt-in to such a system.

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