Microsoft Hohm

Microsoft and Ford have joined forces to bring us Hohm, a sort-of-clever play on the words “Home” and “Ohm”, in short Hohm is a Microsoft internet application that people can use to manage their home power usage and find areas where they can reduce both their power bill and their carbon footprint. Ford will be equipping it’s electric car fleet to be “Hohm aware”, this will mean that Hohm will manage the daily recharge of your Ford car, choosing times late at night when energy demand is low (and some utility companies will reduce the cost of power late at night to encourage this).

Some have expressed concern at having Microsoft manage your car, a blue screen of death whilst travelling at highway speeds would be somewhat unfortunate in a Toyota sort of way, what I think we’ll really see here is the beginning of a number of services like Hohm, Apple will doubtless have a go and the Linux community will come out with something similar, as we move forwards most new homes will have this basic functionality built-in (as well as 440v charging stations in the garage, we hope) and it will operate in the background shaving dollars off our power bills and choosing when to charge our electric cars and motorcycles. Hohm is a good idea, I don’t think we are quite ready for it yet but hey, it’s a beta so it isn’t quite ready for us either.

Hohm is available to try now, all you need is a Hotmail or Live account, it is restricted to US citizens only at the moment but with a US zip code you can sign up (use 100001, it’s the zip for NY) head over to the Microsoft Hohm Page and have a poke around or check out the screenshots below if you belong to the Microsoft-is-the-incarnate-devil posse.

Official Microsoft – Ford Press Release

Today, Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft Corp. are leading the way toward a more energy-efficient future by announcing a new solution that will make electric vehicle ownership easier and more affordable for consumers.

The two companies are teaming up to implement the Microsoft Hohm energy management application for Ford’s electric vehicles. Ford is the first automaker announcing the use of Hohm, starting with the Focus Electric next year. Hohm will help owners determine when and how to most efficiently and affordably recharge battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). It also should help utility companies manage the added demands of electric vehicles on the electrical grid.

“Ford and Microsoft both share a strong commitment to contributing to a better world. Today, we begin the next major step in our working together and leading the way for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability,” said Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. “For Ford, this is a needed step in the development of the infrastructure that will make electric vehicles viable.”

Both companies agree that effective management of the energy ecosystem is critical for electric vehicles to be successful and for consumer interest to grow. In a recent Accenture survey, 42 percent of consumers said they are likely to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle in the next two years.

Increasing numbers of electric vehicles, however, will have a significant impact on energy demand. That is because the addition of an electric vehicle to a household could effectively double home energy consumption while the vehicle is charging.

Ford and Microsoft agree that making energy management easy and affordable for consumers will be key to the success of electric vehicles in the marketplace as well as in creating a positive environmental impact.

“Electric vehicles will play an important role in the global effort to improve energy efficiency and address the issues of climate change and sustainability,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. “But as the market for electric vehicles expands, it will have a significant impact on home energy consumption and demand across the nation’s energy grid. With Microsoft Hohm, Ford and Microsoft will deliver a solution that will make it easier for car owners to make smart decisions about the most affordable and efficient ways to recharge electric vehicles, while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand.”

Introducing Hohm to Ford’s electric vehicles supports Ford’s aggressive global electrification plan, which will put five new electrified vehicles on the road in North America and Europe by 2013. In North America, they include the Transit Connect Electric later this year, Focus Electric in 2011, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and two next-generation hybrids in 2012.

Ford, America’s largest domestic hybrid seller, today has four hybrids on the road and another coming this year. They are the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid. Also coming this fall is the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, which is expected to be the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America.

Life with electrified vehicles — with BEV and PHEV vehicles needing to be recharged daily — will require consumers to change how they think about personal transportation and energy use.

Hohm, an Internet-based service, is designed to help customers avoid unnecessary expense by providing insight into their energy usage patterns and suggesting recommendations to increase conservation. With Ford electric vehicles, Hohm also will help drivers to determine the best time to charge their vehicle. Smart recharging habits will help utility companies understand and better manage the increased demands placed upon the electrical grid because of electrified vehicles.

Ford and Microsoft’s participation in the Hohm program builds on the success of their decade-long partnership to provide customers with superior in-car experiences. The Ford SYNC communications and infotainment system, built on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform, has been installed on more than 2 million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles since its launch in 2007, helping drivers connect and voice-control their mobile devices while driving.

Microsoft Hohm is available today for free to all U.S. residential energy consumers and has multiple partnerships with utilities and other stakeholders already in place. Ford is the first automaker to join in collaboration with Hohm.

Ford and Microsoft also plan to continue to work with utility partners and municipalities to help further develop the energy ecosystem. Ford’s work includes collaboration with a dozen North American energy companies to road-test a fleet of 21 Ford Escape plug-in hybrid vehicles. The research has accumulated more than 160,000 miles of real-world data, which provided important groundwork for the new Hohm application.
“Rechargeable vehicles represent a new frontier. Their commercialization will take broad-based collaboration and systems solutions,” said Mulally. “Working together, Ford and Microsoft will provide the systems solutions to help facilitate this exciting future.”

Ford and Microsoft also plan to continue to work with utility partners and municipalities to help further develop the energy ecosystem. Ford’s work includes collaboration with a dozen North American energy companies to road-test a fleet of 21 Ford Escape plug-in hybrid vehicles. The research has accumulated more than 160,000 miles of real-world data, which provided important groundwork for the new Hohm application.
“Rechargeable vehicles represent a new frontier. Their commercialization will take broad-based collaboration and systems solutions,” said Mulally. “Working together, Ford and Microsoft will provide the systems solutions to help facilitate this exciting future.”

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