A recent merger draws attention to the nascent trend of cooperation between consumer electronics and electricity-monitoring devices: Consumer and business electronics company Belkin acquired academically-powered startup Zensi. Ca

lifornia-based Belkin is best known for its networking products and accessories for mobile devices, laptops and Apple gadgets, while Zelsi's system identifies what types of appliances are being used based on voltage noise, and processes the noise using algorithms to determine what is used when. The Zelsi tech was originally to be implemented in an "itemized electricity bill."

Energy management is a keystone in the contemporary technology conversation, as it connects itself to green, Internet, mobile and wireless concerns. As former Zensi CEO Kevin Ashton explained to Earth2Tech's Katie Fehrenbacher today, "Everybody is looking at this space right now. There is a lot of interest among larger companies about this emerging market." Fehrenbacher continues to clarify: "There has been a lot of talk about broadband service providers moving into the market of selling energy management services to consumers (...) including Verizon, and Comcast. Recently startups have been developing applications for the iPad that can control home energy consumption, hoping the iPad could be next breakout home energy device."

Ashton is now the General Manager of Belkin’s Conserve line of energy efficient products, which the company plans to expand later this year. But E2T quotes Ashton that the Belkin-Zensi union is still in the research and development phase, and applications may not surface for a while, either way, Zensi's former plans may carry through at the new venue: ideas to "sell a service bundled with a smart meter, sell a product directly to customers (like Belkin does now), or use the technology to add features onto existing Belkin products." Ashton is not ruling any of these options out, but the primary goal is to help give consumers more information about their energy usage.