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Tendril opens smart-grid platform to more developers

Cloud platform compatible with wide variety of devices, including Android and iOS, will enable developers to reach wide group of customers as well as utilities and energy service providers.

Tendril Energize Mobile. Tendril's platform is compatible with several mobile operating systems, including Android and iOS (shown).

Start-up Tendril announced today that it's opening up its smart-grid communications platform to more developers.

The Tendril Connect Platform Application Developer Program will allow developers to build on Tendril's platform for energy management and services for both utilities and consumers. The platform has the ability to reach 70 million households connected to the smart grid, according to Tendril.

Launched two years ago, Tendril's platform already includes a range of companies from ThinkEco to Siemens that use the platform. The company also offers compatible hardware in the form of smart thermostats and communication tools to go with its existing software products, as well as those made by developers.

As part of its effort to expose the platform to more developers, Tendril is co-sponsoring the Cleanweb Hackathon September 10 and 11 in San Francisco, in which it will provide its platform APIs and a data set to participants.

Several known companies have already committed to participating, including Dynamo, one of the first start-ups to get funding from Facebook's fbFund.

"Developing on the Tendril Connect cloud platform means that, with a single application, a developer can leapfrog seven years of deep integration work to deliver it immediately. The app will be deployable across all major meter infrastructures, open and proprietary communication protocols, utility back-office environments, numerous operating systems like Android and iOS, and a potentially limitless number of user touch points and devices," said in a statement.

Such an accessible platform means that numerous developers could quickly have access to a large amount of utilities and customers using a wide variety of devices and services, hence opening up a lot of market competition (and hopefully innovation) for the energy management industry.

Creating a common platform for energy management and services could be a win-win for both the platform developer as well as utilities and energy service providers, and obviously Tendril, if several recent reports on the industry are taken as valid.

Smart-grid data analytics services are expected to generate $4.2 billion in annual revenue by 2015. That's because it's the priority of a utility to collect and analyze usage data from smart grids, since it has an immediate and direct impact on how it manages energy, according to a report released in December 2010 by Pike Research.

The Institute for Electric Efficiency also released a report in July that found energy management and smart grid infrastructure success is largely dependent on consumer cooperation and participation. Consumer participation is more likely when consumers have a user interface that's easy to access and use.

Recent investments in various energy platforms, as well as specific software, also confirm the trend. Johnson Controls bought Energy Connect for $32.3 million, Honeywell acquired Akuacom, and Siemens, which also uses Tendril, acquired Site Controls.

Tendril is backed by GE, Good Energies, RRE Ventures, and VantagePoint Venture Partners.