From the Field: Connected Utility Industry Tackles Transformational Technologies


I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts for the first time here on Intel’s Grid Insight’s blog. In my role as an energy solutions architect at Intel I have an opportunity to speak with everyone from OEMs and ODMs to systems integrators and utility workers. By listening to a wide variety of perspectives I’m able to see industry trends as they begin to emerge, revealing pathways to innovative utility solutions using Intel technologies.

A great example is my recent trip to the Bonnneville Power Administration in Oregon, where I walked alongside transmission line crews to listen to their perspectives. Here are three key energy industry trends that surfaced during my visit.


Collaboration through Connected Wearables

img_6793One of the big trends I’m seeing emerge is the tremendous potential for connected wearables to fuel mobility and collaboration in the energy industry. The workers I met on the front lines work in high-voltage areas where not so much as a wedding ring or a watch are allowed. Wearables need to be hands-free and not impact vision, but enhance it, perhaps even offering voice-activation, recording, and transmission capabilities.

Ruggedized Tablets Stand Up to the Elements

daqri_smarthelmet_4 Another trend is rugged tablets that enable near real-time management of smart grid components in all kinds of weather conditions. Utility field workers, especially transmission line workers, spend most of their time outdoors and rugged tablets stand up to the elements. Even if the tablet itself is destroyed, the data still exists thanks to automated syncs that can be set up to send data back up to the cloud or data center, and localized offline in remote areas. The first step though is to incorporate testing and feedback from those on the front lines so that we’re developing what they need.

Drones Offer a Safer Perspective in High-Voltage Situations

drone_intel_realsenseAmid the towering transmission lines and wind turbines I passed during my visit, it occurred to me that drones could greatly contribute to situational awareness in high-voltage situations. They could also enhance substation automation monitoring and remote observation, extending the capabilities of utility crews.

These are just a few of the transformational opportunities that are emerging in the energy industry today. From connected wearables to mobility to drones, this is truly an exciting time for those of us working with the energy industry. I look forward to sharing more on this blog soon. In the meantime, to learn more about connected energy solutions, visit