Shion is now free, courtesy of Power2Switch

I just sent the following note out to Shion beta testers.

The gist: I recently joined a Chicago startup working to help consumers find better electricity plans, monitor their power usage, and to become better power consumers. That work has gone extremely well, and the company will be sponsoring Shion for the indefinite future, which allows me to make the full set of Shion tools completely free to interested users, including the online service.

The letter I sent:

Subject: Shion is now FREE

As some of you have probably observed, Shion development has slowed dramatically over the past couple of months. Shion has always been a side-project for me (read: doesn’t pay the mortgage) and I’ve had to make time for it between paying jobs and other gigs.

The original intent behind the Shion business was to get the product to a point of acceptable maturity and then to charge a monthly subscription to pay for development time, hardware, and so on. My hope was that by giving away the desktop client for free, I could monetize remote control to your environments.

Effective today, that plan is no more. Shion will be available for no cost to its users. Before I explain why & how, let me take you back a few months.

During May, two founders from a Chicago startup called Power2Switch saw some of the work I’d been doing with Shion and we started talking about how my vision for better home monitoring and control overlapped with their business of tapping into the electric grid and running nation-scale analytics on power suppliers to help residential and business customers find the best electrical rates for their given situation. Power2Switch had assembled a business that did just that.

In addition to helping people switch their power suppliers, Phil & Seyi (the founders) had a much bigger vision for not only helping customers save money or use greener electricity, but to also help them become better power consumers. They liked what I was working on with respect to Shion Online’s power management and automated recommendations and they convinced me that I could make a larger impact on this front by joining them. Whereas my efforts would largely be targeted toward home automation enthusiasts with Shion, Power2Switch would allow me to push my ideas and theories out to a much larger base of residential and business customers.

Early in June, I joined them as their Chief Technology Officer. Since then, I’ve been working hard modernizing their existing technology platform into something that I could use to pursue the vision of making electricity users more efficient and effective. Earlier this month, we rolled out a new site to Illinois customers and we have plans to expand to more states in the months ahead. All of the experience and success that I’ve had with Shion on a household level will be adapted to help us build better tools for looking at consumption and efficiency on a per-household level at Power2Switch.

What does this mean for Shion? In my mind, Shion represents a snapshot of how people will use electricity and interact five to ten years in the future. The work that I’ve done this summer with the TED 5000 energy meter (and other devices) will become very relevant for Power2Switch. In many respects, elements of Shion reflect where I want to take the new company from a technology perspective. The folks at Power2Switch agree, and I have their full blessing to continue my work on the Shion project. Shion will remain an independent project of Audacious Software, but I’ve agreed to share ideas and techniques from Shion with Power2Switch & vice versa.

Furthermore, the Power2Switch folks are so enthusiastic about Shion that they’ve agreed to sponsor the application, which allows me to make it completely FREE. Over the next month, I’ll be working hard on getting v1.0 of Shion out and on the iTunes app stores so that anyone can sign up and begin automating their environment. After that version launches, I will begin working on the Android app as well. (As an Android user for the past year, I’ve missed the mobile Shion app acutely.)

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll begin revising the Shion backend to remove the paid signup forms. Since you have already signed up, you will need to do absolutely nothing. Shion will continue to work just fine and you should notice NO interruption and need to take no action. Just keep sending me feedback about the system and how I can continue to improve it.

Thanks again for being a beta user of Shion!

-Chris Karr
Creator, Shion
Chief Technology Officer, Power2Switch