TAMARA CHUANG has an article on The Denver Post website titled “How the Solar Decathlon has helped create your high-tech home — and where it’s going next.” Below is a brief excerpt and a link to the full article.
In 2007, students building a house in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon hung a touchscreen monitor on the wall and connected it to the internet through a desktop computer. They developed software so people could touch the screen to turn the lights on or off, monitor energy use and control the security system.
“That was before the iPad existed,” said Joe Simon, competition manager for this year’s Solar Decathlon, which runs in Denver through Oct. 15. “Two years later, schools had better-looking programming. They had the iPad integrated. Two years after that, a team had modified the Microsoft Kinect (game controller) so that everything in the house could be controlled by hand movements. Two years after that, those students founded a company for energy management, which is now being used by Southern California Edison and has venture funding.”
Many of the innovative technologies that visitors spot at this year’s event could wind up inside your own home. Actual solar energy is, after all, just one-tenth of the global competition — which this year includes 11 teams hailing from places such as Switzerland, the Netherlands and the University of Denver. Building a fully functional solar house for the college students was the easy part. It’s the additional architectural twists and engineering breakthroughs that will help win awards at the biennial event, now in its eighth year. But that’s the beauty of a showcase that offers a glimpse into the future. Since 2007, there’s been a category to encourage students to make it happen: Market viability or market appeal.