The Palo Alto, California pioneer of the simple-but-intelligent Local Operating Network reports that 14 leading companies have been demonstrating home automation products based on Echelon Corp’s LONworks technology. The companies include electricity generator Detroit Edison Inc, First Pacific Networks Inc, Honeywell Inc, Motorola Inc, Thomson Consumer Electronics SA and Toshiba Corp. Detroit Edison is probably the biggest coup for Echelon; like Swedish energy generator Sydkraft, it has standardised on LONworks for communication with customers. The utilities say that by communicating directly with customers, they can reduce the need for new power plants by encouraging customers to use energy at times of low demand. Other companies have demonstrated lighting control, heating systems and motion detectors. Echelon says it is unfazed by recent standardisation efforts from the US Electronic Industries Association (CI No 2,366). The Association’s CEBus Consumer Electronics Bus standard has been adopted by Intellon Corp of Ocala and is being tried out in Canada. A spokesman for Echelon commented: CEBus is essentially a specification, whereas LONWorks is a technology that includes a protocol, chips, management tools and development systems. He added, Open technology is really sponsored by a company rather than a standards body. If something goes wrong with Windows you know who to call. If something goes wrong with a standard, who do you call? Might as well search the Yellow Pages for Ghostbusters.