23rd October 2019

Meet nCube, the ‘brain’ behind the carbon-neutral homes of the future

Maddie Inglis, Social Media Manager

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For a real shot at a sustainable world, more green energy alone, won’t be enough. We also need to innovate on the cutting edge of tech, and reimagine the way we use energy altogether.

Enter nCube: a universal smart home ‘bridge’ engineered by our Future Technologies Evangelist, Phil Steele.

Phil heads up our mission to discover new, smarter ways of using energy.

For Octopus, it all starts with dynamic, Agile energy pricing – meaning, customers get cheaper, greener energy when demand is low, the wind is blowing, or the sun is shining. To make the most of this cheap, green energy, we must optimise smart home tech and automation.

That’s why Phil is exploring the latest and greatest in IoT/smart home tech to truly enable a zero-carbon future.

We're super excited to announce that we've acquired the technologies behind one of Phil's own innovations...

nCube - the control centre for your smart home.

nCube’s technology allows users to manage every aspect of their smart home through one simple app.

How does it work?

The IoT (‘internet of things’) platform connects literally hundreds of smart home products – so you can control everything in your home from one app (whether it’s your Tado thermostat, Sonos speakers, lightbulbs, TV, white goods, or even home solar PV).

This software is an IoT game-changer because it taps into multiple radio layers (i.e., not just WIFI and Bluetooth, but also other smart home radio technologies that products use to connect, like Z-Wave and Zigbee). This means nCube functions as a central hub to control hundreds of devices, no matter what type of network they work from.

This has been a long-time challenge for the smart home industry. Many products currently use separate, incompatible networks: some, like Wemo, are controlled via Wifi or Bluetooth, while others only work on either Zigbee or Z-Wave (such as Philips Hue Zigbee-enabled lightbulbs, or Aeotec’s Z-Wave smart bulbs and switches).

Until now, these products have been disconnected from each other, limiting the ‘smart home’ to a jumble of smaller, incompatible systems. nCube’s tech provides the opportunity for a completely centralised, seamless smart home, easily controlled using one app.

Future Technologies Evangelism 101 with Phil Steele

nCube is Phil’s brainchild – but who is he? Phil is a bit of a smart home pioneer. As a kid, he automated everything in his university bedroom using a motor triggered by a door sensor. He then spent a decade managing product development at Cellnet (later Telefonica). After dreaming up and engineering nCube, he spent six years developing this startup venture, eventually bagging a bunch of design awards and securing a spot in Telefonica’s Wayra Accelerator Programme. And now, he’s ours.

Phil introduced us to nCube at last year’s Smart Energy Hack Day. He chatted to our founder Greg, Product Director Rebecca and CTO James – and discovered that Octopus shared his vision for a green energy system, enabled by technology. He joined the team to head up our mission – reimagining energy’s future.

Phil is currently developing and integrating the technology behind nCube and pulling together everything we’re doing in the IoT/smart home space. He also forges ties with EnTech business pioneers in electric charging, battery storage and home energy generation; and has recently taken charge of everything smart tariff related.

An important, and kinda strange, aside: our Soho office is bursting at the seams (in a fun way). To help manage loo queues, Phil rigged up some smart lights in our chill-out area to indicate which toilets are in use and which are free, using toilet door sensors. Now, our team can check if there’s a queue without having to walk all the way over there. Plus, our office is a constant swirl of green (free) and blue (occupied) lights!

Watch this space. We’re super excited about nCube’s potential, and we’ll keep you updated on any future projects it might be a part of.

Read about some of our other smart home tech ventures…

Tepeo

Powervault

Powerloop

image of Maddie Inglis

Maddie Inglis

Social Media Manager

Hey I'm Constantine, welcome to Octopus Energy!

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