• 5 min read

E.ON and Azure Sphere: Building smart home experiences on a foundation of security

IoT is reshaping the way we interact with the world around us.

This post was co-authored by Danielle Damasius, Principal Program Manager Lead for Azure Sphere.

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IoT is reshaping the way we interact with the world around us.  For example, we live in a culture where responsibilities and competing priorities consistently battle for our time—the beauty of the smart home is that it allows people to tip the balance in favor of personal pursuits—relaxation, creativity, achievement, friends, family. Consumer smart devices help us maximize our time by accomplishing basic tasks with remote control capabilities and voice commands. This is just the start. As more connected devices enter the picture, we’ll see the evolution of a rich fabric of experiences, where layers of intelligent systems work together to predict needs and automate actions before they ever hit the to-do list. Household appliances will be serviced before they break down, supplies and groceries will be delivered in anticipation of our needs. The intuitive capabilities of these smart experiences will remove friction and give people a fluid control of their environment, optimizing almost every aspect of day-to-day life. This intelligent edge will save people money, time, and help lower their environmental footprint—ultimately empowering people to achieve more.

This is a golden time for the companies developing smart experiences, the opportunity for innovation is restricted only to the reach of imagination. The persistent challenge is security: the risk landscape for this new world is still being mapped.  To move forward into this new territory, experiences must be built on a platform of intelligent security that is agile, responsive and always learning. The companies that seize the responsibility of security today will have an incredible advantage as the trusted brands driving the future.

E.ON: creating a new paradigm for home energy management

E.ON, one of Europe’s leading energy companies, is tackling one of the more intricate relationships present in homes: how energy maintains the home environment. The company’s forward-thinking approach to energy consumption gives people the power to curate their quality of life by defining the details of how they want to live.

By bringing together home energy resources in a personalized solution, E.ON Home Energy Management puts a single, responsive energy management solution in the hands of its customers. Heating, lighting, and energy sources like solar panels, batteries and electric car home charging points can all cooperate to help people define and manage their household energy profile. Users may prioritize convenience, comfort, cost savings, or energy conservation—each is possible through a unified approach to balancing resources with household goals. As a champion of energy independence, E.ON also provides their customers with solar solutions to incorporate sustainable energy into their home and store it physically in a battery or virtually in the E.ON Solar Cloud.

Energy is a vital resource. Every convenience, every basic need we have is dependent on access to energy; in many cases access to energy can even be a matter of life or death. E.ON recognizes that with so much at stake, security must be a foundational component of their vision. They understand that the sophisticated experiences they deliver must be matched with equally sophisticated security—security that keeps their devices protected even as the threat landscape evolves. They’ve chosen Azure Sphere.

E.ON serves the needs of over 32 million customers across Europe, they’ve built their brand by consistently delivering trustworthy energy solutions that meet the needs of today’s modern homes and businesses. Knowing that their experiences are secured from device to the cloud with Azure Sphere allows E.ON to innovate with confidence that their customers, bottom line, and brand will be protected over time.

As E.ON prepares for the broad availability of their E.ON Home solution in 2019, they’re partnering with our team at Microsoft to power and secure the devices across their ecosystem with Azure Sphere. Together we will ensure that the diverse devices that bring their vision to life (from heating elements, to electric car chargers, solar panels, lighting solutions, and batteries) all meet the highest standards of security available. E.ON and Microsoft aim to design future-proof technology systems and to deliver their customers the imagined technology of tomorrow today.

E.ON smart home energy consumption graph.

“We at E.ON believe in increasingly electrified and connected homes, improving our customers comfort at home and their quality of life. With E.ON Home Energy Managementwe bring the energy infrastructure in the home together in a seamless and secure way; be it self-generation, storage, heating and cooling, Electric Car charging or home automation. Customers can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without compromising on cost or sustainability, whilst enabling their energy independence. By teaming up with Microsoft and leveraging Azure Sphere we can leverage the opportunity and power of IoT and AI in a highly secure, trusted and scalable way.” – Alex Cirlan, Head of Global Domain – HEM & Software, E.ON

Embracing the responsibility of security with Azure Sphere

The headlines about refrigerators sending spam and baby monitors being used to spy on families may seem distant and futuristic, but the consequences are very real. When a device is compromised, it can impact our privacy, our data, our infrastructure, and even our physical security. As smart experiences continue to evolve driven by possibility and imagination, the threat landscape will also evolve, and security issues will become more acute.

When people open their personal lives and spaces to smart experiences and cutting-edge technology, it’s vital that users can trust these experiences. More than that, it’s our responsibility. We need to redefine smart. Yes, smart experiences are intuitive, insightful, and easy to use. But we need to add one more thing. Smart products must be secure. This is why we built Azure Sphere, to make it easy for device manufacturers to create smart products that are innately secured. You can read more about our defense-in-depth approach to security here.

As we talk to device manufacturers about Azure Sphere, we consistently hear three things:

  • They love how easy Azure Sphere is to use. Our Visual Studio development environment helps them get products to market faster.
  • They love that Azure Sphere gives them confidence that their products are secured – protecting their brands and their customers.
  • They love Azure Sphere’s value. An Azure Sphere solution with MediaTek’s MT3620 is priced at under $8.65. This one-time, upfront fee includes:
  • The MT3620, the first Azure Sphere certified MCU
  • An Azure Sphere OS license, which includes ongoing OS Servicing updates
  • A device license for the Azure Sphere Security Service, which includes ongoing monitoring and updates

Exact pricing will vary based on factors such as volume. As we add new certified MCUs to our line up, you can expect pricing to vary based on their capabilities and manufacturer requirements. Visit our website for more details.

Get started with Azure Sphere development kits and our public preview experience

Today we’re excited to announce the broad availability of Azure Sphere development kits, and public preview of the Azure Sphere OS, the Azure Sphere Security Service, and Visual Studio tools for Azure Sphere. Together these tools provide everything you need to get started prototyping new products and experiences with Azure Sphere.

As we ask more people to invite billions of connected devices into their lives, we must make sure they’re protected.  When we secure our devices, we can secure our future.

Learn more about Microsoft Azure IoT