Fast Company writer Adele Peters looks at Sense, a new sensor that goes inside electric panels in homes to continuously monitor energy use. The device recognizes the electrical "signatures" of a washing machine or laptop for example, and can then send out reports of everything in use in real time.

It's more precise, the company claims, than some similar devices that can't always tell the difference between low-wattage gadgets. CEO Mike Phillips and his co-founders, who previously created Vlingo, the speech-recognition software used by Siri, were able to apply some of the same technology to recognize electrical signals.

The ultimate aim of the product is to help consumers save energy, but the app uses the news feed to try to keep them interested. Right now, even though the app isn't pushing energy efficiency, people are reporting that they're starting to make changes. Ultimately, the company hopes that the technology can help save as much as 20% of wasted energy in homes.

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