Based on ZigBee wireless technology, Korea-based NURI Telecom plans to launch an automatic meter reading (AMR) system in to the U.S. market. The company claims that these systems may help save public utility companies millions of dollars by eliminating the need to manually read electric, gas and water meters at homeowners' premises. Using ZigBee-based wireless networking technology from Ember, NURI Telecom's AMR system will also enable utilities to enter the emerging digital home market by offering new revenue-generating monitoring and control services such as home security, anti-fire systems and home appliance control.

The Ember-enabled AMR system is already being used in scores of Korean homes as part of a government-sponsored Digital Home Pilot Service aimed at turning houses into wireless "smart homes" with digital information, home automation and security services. NURI Telecom also has developed a ZigBee-based communications module as an OEM product for many other AMR and home network solution providers.

NURI's AMR system is integrated with Ember's ZigBee-ready semiconductors and networking software to create a bi-directional wireless mesh network that links meters with utilities' corporate offices. They can remotely meter a home's electricity, gas and water usage more efficiently with fewer errors and at lower costs, while giving customers greater insight into their energy consumption and better customer service.

"Our Ember-enabled meters form a complete mesh so that they can all communicate with each other and route data reliably," said NURI CEO Song Man Cho. "The ZigBee network works well because latency is not an issue, yet the network can be easily expanded as new buildings are brought into service. We partnered with Ember because it had the most mature ZigBee platform, enabling us to reduce our product development time dramatically."

The NURI system, marketed under the brand name AIMIR, is based on the successful commercial remote metering deployment of more than 110,000 residential and industrial facilities. In addition to electric, gas and water usage metering, the system's two-way communications offers new capabilities such as electricity overload control, gas leakage detection and power cut-off notification.

"Because it's based on ZigBee, the industry standard for home automation networks, the AIMIR system will enable utilities to expand into new services beyond basic energy metering," said Venkat Bahl, Ember's vice president of marketing. "Ember's technology is already helping buildings become safer, eco-friendly, more comfortable and energy efficient. The AIMIR system can leverage ZigBee to support new applications such as automatic closure of gas valves, digital door locks, and remotely controlled home devices and HVAC equipment over the Internet, among many other possibilities."