I'm part of a start up company that's building a software package for managing energy usage. There's a 10 minute video running through what we've built if you're interested. http://www.e-missionmanagement.com/thevideo364uk.html
We've been toying with the idea of putting a chumby hacker ( http://www.adafruit.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=46&products_id=278
) board and a bit wacker ( http://www.schmalzhaus.com/UBW/
) together to gather the digital inputs from gas and electrical meters for our clients. Currently companies are charging anywhere between 1k to 3k for the hardware to do this and using proprietary locked down protocols at the same time.
As we're a start up company we've been able to get a grant for 5k euro that we can pay to an Irish university to do this work for us. Now there's more work involved in getting it certified but we'll worry about that after we get it working. We know a circuit design head in our local university(we're all software devs) and we're currently in early talks with this lad about paying him to do the work and order the hardware.
I don't think there's much actual hardware work to do but more along the lines of developing drivers for the bit wacker and a daemon to handle events on the inputs. But we're planning on open sourcing any of the work we do and making it freely available. We'll be selling completed kits and if there's a demand diy kits. Actually we'd love if anyone else was interested in stuffing bags with components and selling it themselves. Basically if we can provide robust cheap smart meters that can talk over ethernet/wifi/gprs(with a usb dongle) than we can sell our software and consulting services. It also annoys me that companies are offering sub standard hardware (we've used a few different configurations and so far nothing has been really satisfactory) for inflated prices and completely locking down what you can do with it.
I was just wondering if you had any advice on doing an open source hardware project such as what license to release under or if there were any alternatives to the chumby/bit wacker combo. Also any general advice on launching a kit project and what's involved in getting a piece of hardware certified to be used as a smart meter for companies.
Looking forward to what you all think