Toyota Can Spy On My Electric Meter. If The Nikkei Is Correctly Informed

toyota can spy on my electric meter if the nikkei is correctly informed

According to The Nikkei [sub] “Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will start offering on Thursday a free application for smartphones that sounds an alarm if the user’s home electricity use reaches a preset level.” Don’t believe it. The Nikkei made it up.

According to the report, “the software causes the handset to vibrate and displays a warning message if electricity use reaches a preset level, based on power consumption data updated every five minutes by Tokyo Electric Power Co.”

Whoa, thought I, so TEPCO now knows in real time how much power I use? And they give those sensitive data to Toyota? And Toyota makes my phone rattle and shake if I’m a bad boy and use too much juice?

I raced outside and inspected the meter for any communication gadgetry. Having found none (see above), I inspected the neighbor’s meter. Same thing (see left). All I can say is that neighbor-san is the same example of power prudence as we are.

See, where we live in Japan, there is not much privacy as far as electric consumption goes. Meters are mounted on the outside wall, in plain view of everyone, including the meter maid that makes her rounds once a month. Is she out of a job? And is that non-privacy taken too far?

A few phone calls later, I can state that TEPCO has no idea how much power I’m using right now. And that the meter-lady is still gainfully employed. And that someone at The Nikkei should look for other employment.

According to sources close to the matter at Toyota, “it looks like Nikkei’s English service got it very wrong.”

The application mentioned in the Snopes-worthy report is nothing else than one of the myriads of TEPCO power usage applications in circulation in Japan. I have one on my phone. The data are available in real-time on TECPO’s website. Raw data, showing power usage in the complete TEPCO service area, can be downloaded and used by one of the many apps and gadgets on smartphones, laptops and electronic billboards all over Japan. Equipped with such a device, I can wave it at my wife and say: “Honey, please turn the A/C down, it’s o.k., we are at 73 percent.” But there is (apart from a few smart meters) no real time per-customer data.

And why is Toyota getting in on the act? Heavens knows. To look green, presumably. And maybe to collect telephone numbers of environmentally conscious Japanese. But definitely not to “sound an alarm if the user’s home electricity use reaches a preset level.”

For the good of all, maybe The Nikkei should be exempt from the rigorous power saving requirements and should be allowed to provide adequate cooling to its editors. The heat is beginning to have debilitating effects.

Join the conversation
2 of 5 comments
  • G35X G35X on Jul 06, 2011

    On April 14, 2009 Toyota and its subsidiary Toyota Home announced that they were planning to implement their “Home Energy Management System (HEMS)” in the houses built by Toyota Home by 2011. The system consists of rooftop solar panels, off-peak electricity storage Li-ion battery pack and PHV/EV charging system. ( If you have this kind of “smart” electric system at your home, it is easy to write an app so that system will keep you informed in real time of the status of your energy use.

  • Bama Bama on Jul 06, 2011

    G35, I think Bertel wrote on that recently. I'm surprised that there are so few smart meters in Japan at this stage. Most U.S. utilities are adding them as quickly as possible; they tend to be more accurate, allow close monitoring of usage (hugely helpful to utilities), can detect illegal grid-tie systems, etc. I'd have expected the Japanese to have been all over these.

  • Tane94 are both eligible for federal tax credits? That's the big $7,500 question.
  • Jkross22 Toenail says what?
  • MaintenanceCosts This sounds like old-school GM drama!
  • SCE to AUX It's not really a total re-badge since some of the body parts are unique, and the interiors are quite different.As I mentioned the other day, the Tonale has a terrible name and a dim future.As for the Alfa team - guess what, this is how corporate ownership works. You are part of Stellantis partly because you're not viable as a standalone business, and then your overlords decide what's shared among the products.By the way: That Uconnect infotainment system found in Alfas was originally a Chrysler product... you're welcome.
  • Kurkosdr Someone should tell the Alfa Romeo people that they are a badge owned by a French company now.The main reason PSA bought FiatChrysler is that PSA has the technology to enter the luxury market but customers don't want a French luxury car for psychological/mindshare reasons. FiatChrysler has the opposite problem: they have lots of still-respected brands but not always the technology to make good cars. Not to say that if FCA has a good platform, it won't be used in a PSA car.In other words, if those Alfa Romeo buds think that they will remain a silo with their own bespoke platforms and exclusive sheet metal, they are in for a shock. This is just the start.