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Further proof of Google's deepening commitment to social computing surfaced on Monday with the introduction of personalized energy savings recommendations for users of Google PowerMeter.
Introduced last year in partnership with several utility companies to a limited set of customers, Google PowerMeter is software that presents data about home energy usage through an iGoogle gadget. To use it, energy customers must have one of the new generation of smart power meters that are being installed by various energy providers around the world.
Earlier this year, Google has made it easier for individuals to sign up to use its PowerMeter software through device partners, such as Current Cost.
In March, Google made PowerMeter into a social experience by allowing users to share power usage data with friends.
Now Google PowerMeter users can receive customized energy saving advice and virtual badges.
"Collecting badges is a fun way of keeping track of your accomplishments to reduce energy waste and save money," explained Google PowerMeter product manager Ryan Falor in a blog post. "And you might even strike up some friendly competition among family and friends to see who can collect the most badges the fastest!"
In addition to these social gaming gimmicks, Google also enhanced its PowerMeter energy graphs to display specific energy usage data at any given point in time using a pop-up display graphic.
Google has been investing in social computing as if its life depends on building its own version of Facebook. In August, Google purchased six companies, more than any other single month, four of which are involved in social computing.