Buddy launches Ohm to snare low-cost building management market

Australian startup Buddy is hoping to capitalize on the growing concerns about the environmental impact and financial cost of energy consumption from businesses looking to the IoT for answers. To this end, Buddy is launching the Ohm – a $1,500 hardware plus software system for building energy monitoring.

Buddy says the Ohm will give its customers a clear view of their buildings’ financial and environmental cost – using sensors that track a buildings consumption of electricity, gas, water, steam and solar power generation. As utility bills make up a significant part of operational costs for most businesses, systems like Buddy’s that offer a solid ROI are rather enticing.

This market is particularly large, with a lot of space for both startups and the largest systems integrators and facilities management suppliers. The Energy Information Administration reported in 2012 that there are over 4m commercial buildings in the US alone, using a total 1,243 TWh a year. Products that can reduce daily energy consumption by even a small amount can mean billions of dollars of saving for businesses.

The Ohm is installed near the electrical panel using its internal magnets or a wall mount accessory, with Current Transformer (CT) clips in the panel capturing the electrical load. The Ohm also has a selection of companion devices using Ohm Pulse to monitor sensors and other meters like gas, water and steam, which then communicate with Buddy Ohm via low-power Radio Frequency (433MHz) – providing a pretty complete picture of the building’s energy usage.

Buddy provides a cloud portal to process and manage data from the device sensors. Customers can then view this data already interpreted on the products software dashboard. The Ohm’s platform will support cloud-to-cloud integration, allowing its Ohm dashboard to be integrated into any existing or future software platform the building might use.

There is a large amount of competition in this market on the software side of things, from companies like C3, which hold contracts with utilities to manage their data on a software platform, or Credit 360, the energy software platform provider of Barclays Bank.

Buddy has taken a sensible approach to the Ohm platform, in supporting cloud integration, as customers will require having flexibility of the Ohm platform and the ability to add any extra service from other platforms in future – including potential rivals.

Buddy’s marketing execs say the Ohm product is a low cost easy to install device aimed at building owners and managers. This is a clear strategy from Buddy – in keeping its offering simple and cheap, it is targeting the lower end of the market, which is currently poorly catered for.

At a larger corporate scale and at higher prices, both the software and hardware side of this market are highly competitive. Larger scale building management systems can be quite expensive and can require power to the building to be taken down for install. They also tend to be designed for the building engineer or operations staff, with a more complex and technical user experience.