Powering Down: NEM Ventures Announces Investment in Ample

NEM Ventures, the venture capital and investments arm of the NEM blockchain ecosystem, has announced an investment in Ample, which uses distributed ledger technology to tokenise energy consumption rights at the user level, creating a new economy for energy efficiency.

Founded in 2018 by environmental entrepreneur, Andrew Hoban, Ample’s mission is to use feedback and incentives to encourage consumers to consume less energy, targeting the 20 to 50 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction potentially available through behaviour change alone.

Ample, an app which reads current data from a single, machine-learning enabled sensor installed at the fusebox, gives users a 360-degree view of their domestic energy consumption. It gives deep insights into energy consumption and identifies energy waste hotspots. Within the context of a saving community or economy, such as university campuses, it then uses behavioural theory to ‘nudge’ consumers into more efficient behaviour.

Andrew Hoban, CEO of Ample, commented: “The whole system is set up to move consumers towards target behaviors that are more aligned with their individual and group interests. Blockchain plays a part. We can use it to record relative consumption and allow consumption caps to be traded. None of that matters though, if people don’t care about the incentives or even check their app.”

To ensure their behavioral economic incentives hit the mark, Ample have enlisted some heavy hitters to back them up. One example of this is Ting Jiang, principal at Dan Ariely’s Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University and experienced behaviour interventionist. Ting will be advising on behavior intervention planning and assessment.

“Ample is the future of energy consumption. Resources are limited. Now that we have the tools to tokenise and trade them trustlessly, we’re doing it. Blockchain’s trustlessness means that users can know that they are trading their caps with other users, and not being tricked by the administrators for their own profit. It’s an essential element in a successful behaviour system.”

NEM Ventures are excited to be in at the ground floor of this classic application of blockchain. Their angel investment is being used to finance pilots of two of Ample’s cap and trade economies in Shanghai. An opt-in pilot will link the environmental community’s saving efforts with local businesses who accept proof of saving to give special offers to Amplers. The second is on the campus of the China-UK Low Carbon College. Ample’s behavioral intervention system is being deployed on campus and the cap-and-trade economy in dormitories. The system is expected to save universities up to 20 cents on the dollar in energy costs which, for many universities, can amount to millions of dollars a year.

“Universities are just the landing ground. This system needs to be applied at all levels and we will be the pioneers,” Hoban continued.

Commenting on the investment, Iain Wilson, Advisor at NEM Ventures, said: “We’re incredibly excited to be investing in Ample, a real manifestation of blockchain which will allow society to reduce its carbon footprint and lessen its environmental impact. Combating climate change is not just about a top-down governmental approach — consumers can very much effect positive outcomes by making these decentralised decisions and we see an incentive system as a core function of blockchain.”

The pilots are expected to go live in Spring 2020.

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Thanks to @Brainofmasses and NEM Flash again for picking up the story so quickly:

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Ample Development Report

It’s been over three months since we received the investment from NemVC and we’ve been getting a lot done. My wife actually gave birth to twins the same week we received the investment so it’s been a pretty intense few months for me but I’m very happy with how our team/teams have been working together and with the progress made. Much respect to Hank, our CTO, for getting everything working together. As you will see, it’s a somewhat complex project. At any one time we could have up to ten people in 3-5 different teams working.

Let the first community update commence!

Hardware

We finalized the design for our latest and hopefully “final” prototype and it is already being produced at the factory. We are producing 100 units for our pre-pilot testing and algorithm training. Once we are satisfied that everything is working as expected we will be manufacturing potentially up to 1000 units to cover both of our pilot programs. We will share some pictures when they arrive and the housing is complete.

Mobile App

The basic version of the mobile app is complete. You can install the APK and play around with it if you like (login: [email protected]; catapult). The data is all fake and awaiting real data after the hardware integration. The next step is to add specific behavior-changing user journeys over the top of it. We have done some preliminary work on this but are waiting to get a bit more data from our pre-pilot to invest much time into it.

Behavioral Psychology

We were very grateful to entertain our behavioral psychology partner, Ting Jiang, in Shanghai last month. We had an intense few days session where we did a bit of a behavioral autopsy of our whole system and found a lot of flaws as well as ideas on how to improve. One example of these flaws is the leader-board in our app. We will scrap that in later editions. The next phase of the app development, apart from the hardware integration, is to implement a number of specific behavior changing strategies. You will see what I mean hopefully in the next update.

Blockchain

I know this is the part everyone wants to see but I will be honest and say that we have only outlined the blockchain component of our system. We wanted to get the other parts all clearly defined before starting work on this. This strategy also allowed more time for catapult to be built out. Building the blockchain component is now one of our top priorities. You will see it in the next update.

Machine-learning

This is one of the more important parts of our system, but it required the hardware to be completed as a prerequisite. Our machine learning specialist, Abid, has been using the time to research and get some algorithms prepared. Hopefully, we will receive the devices in the next 14 days and also solve a networking issue that we are having in that time. Then we can begin the real fun of training our algo’s to recognize the different devices and circumstances in the home.

Competitions

We entered one of the more important pitch competitions in Shanghai, the CHJ High-Tech Carnival 2019, Overseas Startup Competition. We have reached the final stage now, along with 8 other companies. So far we have won a free booth at Global Entrepreneur Week, a free office in the Caohejing High-Tech Park (the main high-tech area in the city-center) and are also automatic finalists in the Alibaba Cloud Pitch competition, which is obviously exciting, along with the “Shanghai 50 Most Worth Investing” and the Maker China competitions. This pitch competition was really a strategic entry for us and getting to the stage we have already, we should be able to get in front of hundreds of investors, potential partners and some media. Not too shabby at all.

The Pilot

Safety is a great concern for the university, obviously. We have been working with them to define exactly what we need to do and get the necessary clearance to make our installations. Our main issue was the power supply, which we have resolved now (I hope). Generally, our devices do not have a good solution for power and we can’t afford to develop one at this stage. To get our pilot done quicker, safer and cheaper, we will be using an out of the box power supply that already has all the relevant safety certifications.

Job Openings

We are currently looking to add a core team member, a mobile app designer/developer. Applicants who can demonstrate a passion for the environment are preferred. A very handsome equity package is on offer for the right candidate. Please DM me a CV for more details.

That is all for our community update,

We appreciate all the support,

Until next time,

Kind regards,

Andrew Hoban

Ample, CEO

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Wow! This is awesome news!
Is this the smart meter project we heard about last year?