GE – The Appliance of Ignorance

Back in the 1980’s when they were trying to establish themselves in the British market, Zanussi ran a campaign for their products using the advertising strapline “the Appliance of Science“.  I was reminded of it this week when I was reading a white paper from another appliance manufacturer – GE.  Not because it had anything to do with science; in fact just the opposite – it was about the most unscientific paper I’ve ever come across.

It was written to promote GE’s view on which wireless standard should be chosen for the Home Area Network (HAN).  These are designed to connect devices around the home to a smart meter or a home gateway that has access to information about your current energy tariffs.  GE thinks the best choice should be ZigBee because “ZigBee is better than Wi-Fi”.  One of the paper’s authors is an active editor for the ZigBee Alliance Smart Energy Profile, so that’s not surprising – he’s entitled to be enthusiastic about the technology he’s part of.  And it may be that ZigBee is a good choice.  But GE’s analysis doesn’t provide any evidence as to why it might be.  Instead it provides an evidence-free quasi-analysis that does ZigBee more harm than good.

We’ve had a year of hype as different wireless standards vie for the crown of being chosen as the de facto one for smart metering.  Much of that obscured the facts which need to be considered to make that choice.  In the last few months I thought the industry had settled down and was beginning to a bit more logical.  This rant from GE suggests that some of those involved in the debate still have a lot to learn.  If you want to see how not to make a reasoned argument, download and read the GE white paper.  I’ll highlight what is so wrong about it.

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