Oregon Smart Home Technology Wins Funding
September 09, 2016
Network of smart outlets, switches and sensors can cut energy use while helping owners
PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon BEST today announced a $250,000 investment from its Early-Stage Funding Program to an Oregon startup that has developed a smart energy technology that taps the Internet of Things to lower power bills for apartment renters while offering building owners and developers a marketing differentiation and lower operational costs.
The Portland-based company IOTAS will use the Oregon BEST investment to collaborate with researchers at the Green Building Research Lab, an Oregon BEST Lab located at Portland State University, to validate and quantify energy savings from the IOTAS technology, which is a network of smart devices including switches, outlets, thermostats and sensors connected to a phone or tablet running the IOTAS app.
"Most people don't really focus on saving energy, so our thesis is that they shouldn't have to think about it – the home should just do it," said Sce Pike, CEO of IOTAS (pictured, right). "With this project, we're hoping to prove that thesis and clearly show that our technology benefits both renters and building owners."
The IOTAS technology learns a renter's daily patterns, then supports changes that reduce energy consumption. For example, the system can determine when occupants enter or leave the apartment and adjust the heat and lights accordingly. If people are in certain rooms only at certain times, the system notes that and suggests energy use changes accordingly.
For building owners and leasing professionals showing vacant properties to potential renters, the system can be programmed to adjust the heat and light just prior to showing a unit, saving both time and energy. It can also assist maintenance teams by promptly alerting them to wasted energy or potential safety hazards, such as water leaks or problems with lighting systems in the building.
PSU associate professor Corey Griffin and students will implement a yearlong pilot program at 90 apartments located in three different buildings in the Portland area. Three groups of 30 units each will serve as a control group, a group with low level control over their energy use using basic smart phone technology, and a third group that has all the options to automate their home and automatically save on energy using the IOTAS technology.
Quantifying and validating energy savings during the pilot would also allow the IOTAS technology to potentially qualify for utility-provided incentives that would allow existing building owners and developers to incorporate the technology at reduced cost.
"We're pleased to be supporting an Oregon startup that has such potential to save energy in multi-family housing, senior and student living facilities and other buildings," said Ken Vaughn, Director of Commercialization at Oregon BEST. "The market for this is significant, as is the potential for job creation."
Pike credits Oregon BEST with recognizing the potential of the technology when the company pitched it to Oregon BEST last year and then followed up to see if collaboration with university researchers would help IOTAS advance its technology. The funding was announced today at Oregon BEST FEST.
"The people at Oregon BEST are a wonderful team to work with and probably brightest investors we've ever done due diligence with," Pike said. "They just really get it – all the nuances and the potential of the technology. They've been great."
IOTAS launched in 2014 as a team of 4, and has grown to a workforce of 13 today.
Oregon BEST offers a wide range of funding and support for cleantech startups in Oregon, and currently has more than 40 start-up companies listed as Oregon BEST Companies that are receiving help moving their technologies to the marketplace.
About Oregon BEST http://oregonbest.org
Oregon BEST funds and assists cleantech startups, bringing together Oregon’s significant R&D strengths to support entrepreneurs in the creation of new products and services. As the nexus for clean technology innovation, Oregon BEST builds capability, convenes collaborations and accelerates solutions to environmental challenges that deliver prosperity in all corners of Oregon. More than 250 Oregon BEST Member Researchers and a network of nine Oregon BEST Labs at four partner universities (Oregon State University, Oregon Tech, Portland State University, and University of Oregon) offer research expertise and lab equipment to industry. Oregon BEST competitively awards Early-Stage Investments to collaborations between startup companies and Oregon BEST Member Faculty at partner universities.
About IOTAS, Inc. http://iotashome.com
IOTAS is the smart home experience designed specifically for renters. By partnering directly with property developers, the company installs and sets up apartments with smart outlets, switches, and sensors before tenants move in. IOTAS believes that the real estate industry has untapped monetization opportunities, and wants to be the connector between players in that arena.