Smart Plugs (TalkingPlugs) for Your Home

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Zerofootprint has created a new “TalkingPlug” that will help you to better monitor the energy usage of different appliances and electronics. How? By making your electrical sockets smarter.

Zerofootprint already helps corporations and governments in evaluating and reducing their carbon emissions through various methods. It also helps households through innovative technologies such as this one. This new TalkingPlug is for corporations or households (or anyone with electrical sockets) and will have an initial price tag of about $50. The price may go down considerably if it can make the product on a larger scale.

How does it work? What are its advantages compared to Google’s PowerMeter and other similar up and coming technologies?

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How Does a TalkingPlug Work?

A TalkingPlug fits right onto the top of existing electrical sockets. It is also “equipped with componentry to make it a controllable node on a network, including an RFID chip, microprocessor, and wireless networking.”

TalkingPlugs can identify exactly how much electricity an individual appliance or electronic is using, but they can also be used to control electronics (i.e. program TVs to turn on and off at different times).

TalkingPlugs allow you to compare your energy usage with others’ as well. Martin LaMonica reports: “A set of plugs create a mesh network and can send information via a home or office building router to Zerofootprint. The company’s software processes and analyzes the data, showing people how the energy use compares to others.”

Ron Dembo, CEO of Zerofootprint, very reasonably says that it makes the most sense to use the plugs for things using a lot of power — home computers, entertainment centers. However, if Zerofootprint can make the plug on a larger scale, the price is expected to drop from $50 to something much lower and they can be used more ubiquitously by more people.

Zerofootprint has just developed an early version of this product and is looking to get companies (i.e. utilities and appliance makers) to test it out. They are expected to introduce the product next week.

How Does the TalkingPlug Compare to Google’s PowerMeter and Other Up & Coming Products?

Google’s PowerMeter can monitor home energy usage in great detail as well but it generally requires that an electrician install a smart meter or a home energy display. LaMonica reported a couple months ago that IBM and the utility company Consert have been working together on a smart grid program where major appliances can be hooked up to controllers and can communicate with a meter in much the same way as these TalkingPlugs do. With this system, a person can view the data and even control appliances on the web as well. The end use is much the same as these TalkingPlugs.

These products all have a lot in common. However, the benefit of these TalkingPlugs is that if they are produced on a large scale, they should be much more affordable than these other technologies.

This looks like a good step forward in home energy monitoring and control. As Zerofootprint CEO Ron Dembo believes: “It will completely transform our world when plugs talk to each other and interact with each other.”

via CNET Green Tech

Related Stories:

1) Google PowerMeter Will Provide Real-Time Home Energy Information on Your Computer

2) Google Announces First Utility Partners for New PowerMeter

3) Energy Efficiency: The Massively Multiplayer Online Game

Image Credit: Jake Mates via flickr under a Creative Commons license

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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