• Technology Innovation
  • Information Technology

Analyst Insights from Oracle's Innovation Lab

Michael Kelly
Aug 19, 2022

Guidehouse Insights

Although the adage, “It’s difficult to turn an oil tanker,” certainly has its merits when considering the inability of many large organizations to make widespread, sweeping changes, this paradigm is being challenged by innovative providers within the energy space. Companies such as Oracle and others are promoting new concepts and ideas to better position themselves at the leading edge of innovation. 

Grand Opening of Oracle Innovation Lab

In April 2022, Oracle opened the doors to its Innovation Lab in Deerfield, Illinois. Located just outside of Chicago, the 30,000 square-foot lab was created to demonstrate new technologies, foster collaboration, and test game-changing ideas to help solve the unique challenges facing the energy industry, among other verticals. It’s here where Oracle, along with its technology partners (Samsung, EDX Technologies, SmartThings, Clearsight), can ideate, test, and validate new solutions to accelerate the pace of vertical industry innovation. 

Figure 1: Oracle Innovation Lab

Oracle Innovation Lab

(Source: Oracle)

As part of my visit to the Innovation Lab Grand Opening, Oracle demonstrated several new platform-oriented solutions and strategic partnerships aimed at the energy industry:

  • Realizing the Power of Distributed Grids (Connected Hub). This model train scale replica of the Lab and nearby residential neighborhood enables participants to engage with new field equipment and customer-owned distributed energy resources (DER) being connected in today’s grid networks. The Distributed Grid experience demonstrates how new DER devices such as solar PV, wind, energy storage, and electric vehicles (EV) can be engaged to proactively and cost-effectively mitigate both supply-side and grid-side constraints.
  • Real-Time, Optical Sensing Platform. This integrated platform pairs optical sensors from New York-based Micatu with Oracle’s software solutions to deliver real-time streaming of critical power quality measurements, enabling advanced distribution management systems (ADMS) to take immediate actions to balance loads and alleviate grid pressures brought about by renewable energy resources. As demonstrated by EDX Technology, these values can also be used to optimize field crews through data visualizations via embedded and wearable hands-free technologies. Using augmented reality (AR), field workers can get hands-free information and assistance to supplement their situational awareness with real-time data, insights, knowledge, and guidance from across the utility enterprise (legacy systems, cloud-enabled IoT sensors, AI-driven insights).
  • Demand Management Platform. Developed in collaboration with Smart Things and Copper Labs, this real-time demand management platform can be used to help manage energy demand by engaging customers with real-time meter data. Powered by smart appliances and accessible through an app, customers can not only obtain on-the-spot, immediate data regarding their energy usage, but also automate energy saving actions such as e.g., delay running the dishwasher or putting the television on standby. This benefits Oracle via its Opower business line, as it provides an easy integration with utility systems and allows real-time data streams to feed the programs Opower runs across its large base of utility customers. Opower’s customer engagement channels simultaneously benefit Cooper Labs through increased adoption of Copper devices and engagement with the Copper app.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) Experience. Oracle also demonstrated its cutting-edge VR experience which has spent the last nine months at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. This experience gives visitors the opportunity to explore the future of energy and water sustainability and understand their role in shaping that future.

These case studies illustrate the different types of emerging technologies that are increasingly required to manage the grid of tomorrow. These ideas center around common industry-wide macrotrends of real-time data availability, seamless integration across IT and OT, and a revaluation of the role of the end customer. Oracle’s purpose-built lab combines the space, technologies, and collaborative programs required to help the energy and water industries accelerate toward their goals of sustainability and affordability.