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Sony Power

Sony Outlets Control Electricity Through Authentication 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the papers-please dept.
itwbennett writes "Sony on Tuesday demonstrated new 'smart sockets' that 'perform authentication whenever a device is plugged in,' said Taro Tadano, a general manager in Sony's technology development division. The company also demoed a home power grid that tracks electricity use by time and appliance." This has led to speculation that the technology will be used in some places to charge consumers for the use of electricity.
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Sony Outlets Control Electricity Through Authentication

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  • Power piracy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:14PM (#39038281) Homepage Journal

        Perfect. Steal some outlets (carefully) from a hotel, and put them at the house. It'll be a whole new world of piracy. Wait til they start getting cloned. I'd bet the power company may have a huge bill for their own offices.

    • Re:Power piracy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:18PM (#39038345)

      Yeah, because nobody will think of correlating where the outlet IS versus where the drain is coming from.

      Your plan requires the people to be incredibly stupid. A not unreasonable belief, but it strains some credulity.

      • by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:34PM (#39038533)
        Don't underestimate the power of stupid plans. There's a reason hotels used to put stickers that said "THIS REMOTE WILL NOT WORK WITH YOUR TV AT HOME" on TV remotes, and bolt them to the night stand.
        • by mrmeval (662166)

          But they work just fine if you replace the chip. :-D

          Seriously an atmega and some creativity and you have a nice case with spiffy buttons, IRLEDs and a decent battery holder.

    • Re:Power piracy (Score:5, Informative)

      by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:51PM (#39038669)

      Even if you could do this, why would you want to? Do you want to pay the hotel every time you use your pay-for-power enabled toaster at home?

      This isn't a device to let the power company monitor your power usage, it's a way for the facility owner to do so (and possible to charge you for usage). It requires an on-premises controller to communicate with the outlets. When you bring the hotel's outlet home, it won't talk to your controller (well, probably not) and certainly won't send a bill for your usage to the hotel.

      • Re:Power piracy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @07:33PM (#39039725) Homepage Journal

        Correct. For hotels, this is more likely going to make them able to charge for "extra power usage". If you use the lamps, TV, coffee maker and clock radio, they'll have plugs that identify them, so no extra charge. But if you plug in your laptop, they'll bill you for the extra usage at astronomical rates, like they do for phone calls.

        Of course, I always have crocodile clips in my computer bag. If nothing else to get POTS dialup from third rate hotels. However, they can just as easily be used on electric cords. There even are outlets that can be screwed into lamp sockets, so I think this will be about as successful as the last time it was tried by hotels, with a meter in the wall socket itself. Didn't work then, won't work now. At best, some customers will say fuck it and choose a different hotel, and a manager will get a bonus before he gets fired, and the hotels will declare the experiment a success before abandoning it. I.e. your typical flop.

        The only practical application I can think of is to prevent children from watching TV or playing games by deauthorizing the plug at certain hours. But even then, children as resourceful and will find ways around it. Doing actual parenting has a greater chance of success.

  • by thomasdz (178114) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:15PM (#39038291)

    I don't see any risks in this whatsoever, no siree bob, this plan is completely flawless....

    NOT!

    • by jhoegl (638955) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:17PM (#39038331)
      OOohhhh ho ho!!!! I see what you did there...
      You said one thing and then went all late 80s on your own sentence!
      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:02PM (#39038767) Homepage Journal
        I'm trying to see if I can come up with a reason why anyone would possible want tracking like this?!?!?

        I mean, I already pay for my electricity usage...per kilowatt hour...why would I need to let the power company drill down to see what specific fucking amounts my appliances or computers is using?

        Is this going to be one of those things that you might get a few cents off your rate if you let them nose into what your running, similar to that spy device that Progressing insurance is having their customers put in their car to 'monitor their driving habits'?

        Seriously, what even remotely intelligent consumer out there wants this shit?

        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:09PM (#39038873) Homepage Journal

          I'm trying to see if I can come up with a reason why anyone would possible want tracking like this?!?!?

          So that users can plug in their electric vehicles (from bicycles on up) while they're at work, or shopping, or whatever. Wow, that was hard to imagine.

          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            Interesting...I could see that.

            Considering the dearth of electric vehicles out there...I think you could understand my not thinking of that possibility.

            :)

            • Chicken and egg! Why of course!

              And your flaw is there is now the ability to deploy the chicken (and egg) such that there will be outlets that can charge for electricity and that will lead to more electric cars.

              I guess you haven't heard about the Leaf or Volt, Tesla Motors, etc?
        • by mlts (1038732) *

          I have a Kill-o-Watt meter. If I want tracking, I plug that in between the appliance and the wall. Done.

          Sony's system if put in with today's political climate means we will be paying 2-3x as we do for electricity, as well as likely being hauled to jail for suspicions because a row of lights appears to a profile scanner like a marijuana grow room array.

      • by thomasdz (178114)

        I thought Wayne's World was more 1990s than 1980s?

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      Well, Sony is an expert in security.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054) *

      Risks are one thing, but actual use case is even more basic.

      Is there any rationale to bill you for the power you use in a hotel room? Seriously?
      Paying today's hotel rates (not high end, just quality chains), I already pay them exorbitant rates for next to no service, zero security, and retched restaurants.

      Now they are going to charge me to plug in a phone, and a computer? Given the dearth of outlets in your typical hotel room I can't see how you can use enough electricity to make it matter. Are people che

  • I don't want any of my technology to be "smart" for the newspeak definition of smart.

  • by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:17PM (#39038319) Homepage Journal

    It will install onto every electrical device in your house, entirely free of charge, a BRAND NEW ROOTKIT!!!!

  • by Scareduck (177470) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:18PM (#39038339) Homepage Journal

    In the current environment, the next thing you know, this would be MANDATED, so the state could disable your computer by requiring its registration. PASS.

    • Not just your computer, but any appliance big brother doesn't think you should have on.

    • by EdIII (1114411)

      It's a completely retarded idea in the first place. Why add a ton of complexity to what is a simple power circuit? How much more expensive and complicated do they need to make the chargers?

      They would need to allow a 5 minute free zone anyways. The charger itself needs to communicate with the device to pass account information to the outlet. Kind of hard to do without power. You would need some power just to start up to get charged.

      Of course you know... just maybe... you could be really simple and smart

  • by tekrat (242117) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:18PM (#39038347) Homepage Journal

    Or your TV won't turn on!

    Yeah, this won't be abused by greedy bastards. It's DMCA all over again, but now for electricity. Coming next, Sony demos batteries that charge you by the volt. Want to use your cell phone to make a call? There's a bill for that!

    They are gonna "charge" for your "charge"...

    • by siddesu (698447)

      DNRTFA, but in Japan there would be a market niche for this kind of hardware, maybe to use with a stored value card of the kind that is used to ride the train. There are many establishments - cafes and small restaurants - that will not let customers plug a computer on the account of the outrageous electricity bills they believe they will incur.

      Also, some Sony computers there come with the hardware and software to use such cards, so I presume they demo a kit that links those two (or a similar kit) together.

      • by ngg (193578)

        DNRTFA, but in Japan there would be a market niche for this kind of hardware, maybe to use with a stored value card of the kind that is used to ride the train. There are many establishments - cafes and small restaurants - that will not let customers plug a computer on the account of the outrageous electricity bills they believe they will incur.

        That doesn't make much sense... using what I think are reasonable estimates, 10 outlets * 100W per outlet * 10 hours per day * 360 days * $0.2 per kWh only works out to a few hundred dollars per year. Surely any one of the electrical appliances (or lighting) in a small restaurant or cafe uses more than that. On the other hand, I could see them wanting to discourage people from occupying a table all day when other customers need seats...

    • by PhxBlue (562201) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:40PM (#39038597) Homepage Journal

      Coming next, Sony demos batteries that charge you by the volt.

      Well, at least then the price would stay fixed, because the voltage doesn't change.

    • by DinDaddy (1168147)

      You got that completely wrong. It should be

      In Sony Japan, batteries charge YOU!

  • Will I really pay per minute to charge my laptop, or will I go buy a screwdriver and some $5 alligator clips?

    Better yet, will I just get one of those light socket plug adapters? Either way, I'm not paying my hotel for power when I travel. Many already try to wing you for $15 or more just for 24 hours of slow internet access...and don't get me started on the minibars!

    • by Yo Grark (465041) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:21PM (#39038393)

      ...and don't get me started on the minibars!

      Why.... are you a mean drunk?

      Yo Grark

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:42PM (#39038615) Journal
      I don't even understand why a company would bother. Electricity is what, about 8 cents a kw? So powering a 1000w microwave for an entire hour is only 8 cents. Laptop for an hour would probably be less than 1 cent, so why would you put in an expensive outlet when you could just let people charge their devices for a penny?

      If they're worried about people stealing electricity then install locking electrical boxes that fit over the outlets. [lectralock.com]

      Also... I'm not sure how this Sony outlet would work.
      "a new power outlet that can identify who is connecting to it, and therefore allows for an individual to be charged for use. The key to the intelligent outlet is the inclusion of an integrated circuit which communicates over the power line connection. It can check the identity of the device, and therefore the owner of that device before deciding what to do. "

      Ok it communicates... with what, exactly? It's copper wire, going into a battery... what's it talking to? It's not ethernet, it's not hacking into my iphone or laptop or whatever, how is it checking the "identity of the device", unless I own a special "smart" power cord that can communicate back.....

      Ah, I understand, article is BS

      There's no "magic" integrated circuit that can automatically just read anything plugged in and pass on your credit card number, according to Sony you must have a special smart AC charger to communicate with the outlet. [google.com]

      And how many people are going to buy these special smart AC chargers? No one. So how many outlets like this will there be? Zero. Whole idea is a bust. Add this to the long list of failed proprietary Sony formats like MemoryStick, UMD, DAT, Minidisc and ATRAC Audio Compression. [fastcompany.com]
      • by jo_ham (604554)

        DAT, MD and ATRAC were quite successful actually.

        Well, except for American consumer goods, but that's all that matters, right?

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          DAT, MD and ATRAC were quite successful actually.

          DAT was another format Sony killed with copy protection. 'What do you mean I can record digital CD-quality audio, but I'm not allowed to copy digital audio from my CDs?'

          I do have a DAT Walkman, but that's because we used to use DAT for sound recording on movies. It doesn't have a digital input but at least it doesn't force you to record at 48kHz instead of 44.1.

      • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:16PM (#39038963) Journal

        You pointed it out. Sony has a vivid imagination and a very detailed fantasy life. They routinely envision entire technical ecosystems populated entirely by their proprietary inventions. So, yes, it's entirely realistic in Sony-world to expect that Sony SmartSockets (tm) will proliferate, and that Sony SmartPlugs (tm) will be present on every electrically-powered device in the world, and Sony will operate an on-line service for authentication, billing, and service management for both power providers (owners of SmartSockets) and power consumers (owners of SmartPlugs). They'll RAKE IN THE MONEY! It'll be better than Star Wars: Galaxies! It'll be cooler than rootkitting every music CD every produced! Every "conventional" power outlet will be BANISHED by the power of SONY MARKETING! Sony SmartPower (screw trademarks) will OWN THE WORLD! And when Sony decides to press those useless nation-states to recognize its extra-territorial superiority, it has the SECRET WEAPON of threatening to turn off ALL power in those countries UNLESS THEY CAPITULATE! (Mwahaha!)

        This is how it works in the minds of Sony. Out here in boring-conventional-reality-land, only a few clueless suckers will buy into it, and come to regret it almost instantly.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      Will I really pay per minute to charge my laptop, or will I go buy a screwdriver and some $5 alligator clips?

      I can't speak for what *you* will do, but I don't stick my fingers anywhere near a bare power conductor, so I'd pay for the power. Much like I don't bypass my electric meter even though I know how to do it it, but I'm not willing to accept the risk or danger of doing so.

      Better yet, will I just get one of those light socket plug adapters? Either way, I'm not paying my hotel for power when I travel. Many already try to wing you for $15 or more just for 24 hours of slow internet access...

      By the time this technology is commonplace, hotels will have non-replaceable LED lighting that's built in to the fixtures (never needs replacing over the lifetime of the hotel room), and maybe the whole room's lighting will be low voltage LE

  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:19PM (#39038367) Homepage Journal

    So that people can be charged for use of public restrooms depending on the excrement mass they release.

    what the hell. lets just put it in streetspeak :

    for charging people per ounce of shit. .............

    there is no end to 'charging' in capitalism. everything is privatized so nothing will remain public, and then everything is charged so that some who control the means can make even more money.

    its to the imbalance of 85% of population getting 15% of everything to 5% top of population getting 72% of everything in u.s. now.

    http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html [ucsc.edu]

    reduction of 'public' and increase of 'private' will just tip it more and more towards the ......... well not medieval serfdom, for sure. medieval serfs got 33% of all produce from the land by law. whereas lord got 33%. church the rest 33%. no medieval lord could dream of getting 72% like top 5% americans did, and no medieval serf would accept less than 33%. but americans, do.

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      Bethselamin is a fabulously beautiful planet which attracts billions of tourists each year. Unsurprisingly, erosion is a serious concern of the local authorities. Their solution is to calculate the net imbalance between the amount of matter eaten and the amount subsequently excreted by each visitor, and remove the weight difference through amputative surgery. Thus it is vitally important to get a receipt after every trip to the lavatory while on the planet.

      - The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.

    • It seems as though the entire focus of U.S. corporations these days is on how to make more money without actually doing anything constructive or innovative. "How can we change for something that's currently free?". "How can we lobby Washington to "externalize" our existing costs on the public?". Maybe on their best day, "How can we brainwash people (including minors/infants if possible) to want crap they don't need?". I mean fucking seriously...God forbid they try to, uhhh, let's say, come up with a pro
    • by HBI (604924) <kparadine@gmail.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:38PM (#39038579) Homepage Journal

      The medieval lord performed a service to the serf - protecting him against bandits and other lords. The church performed a service for the serf: they tended to his soul and also kept records and such. The bottom line, though, was that getting enough to eat was a struggle. The lord and church were fully conscious that there were more serfs than they. While their guards were better armed, it was a matter of degree rather than a huge difference. A sword might be a better arm than a farm implement, but both can kill you. 100 men armed with farm implements are going to fare rather well against 10 who have good arms. Therefore, things were kept reasonable by fear of insurrection.

      The technocrats and corporate overlords of today need to rediscover this fear.

      • Unfortunately 100 men with hunting rifles are no match for 10 men with automatic rifles and rocket launchers.

      • even by the late 1700's (American Revolution), there was a relatively small difference between consumer weaponry and professional weaponry

    • So that people can be charged for use of public restrooms depending on the excrement mass they release.
      what the hell. lets just put it in streetspeak :
      for charging people per ounce of shit. .............

      Satisfaction guaranteed or double your shit back! :D

    • its to the imbalance of 85% of population getting 15% of everything to 5% top of population getting 72% of everything in u.s. now.
      http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html [ucsc.edu] [ucsc.edu]

      Good job pulling numbers out of your ass. According to that publication the top 20% own 80%, not the top 15% owning 85% like you stated.

  • Unless you have a Playstation(TM) or some other Sony(TM) or Sony(TM)-licensed for access product plugged in, all your power sockets will shut down.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:20PM (#39038375)

    If I see a headline indicating that Apple wants to control my plumbing...that's it, I'm quitting humanity.

    • I see you've got two options for quitting humanity.
      1) death
      2) gene therapy to turn yourself into a different species

      2 sounds like the most fun
  • This doesn't use typical connectors so this means a house has to be upgraded and so are all the devices. May work great in new developments but trying to push this into a current house will fail.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      I think its more for 'outside' areas, coffee shops, airport lounges, etc. where they can offer you a plug to charge your laptop (or car...) and bill you for the juice you've drawn.

      They already bill you for electricity used inside your house at the point of entry.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:21PM (#39038395) Homepage
    Coffee shops will probablynot use this. They overcharge so much for coffee and use free wifi to attract people.

    Particularly as electricity is very cheap and I bet the outlets cost at least $30 a shot. It would take an awful lot of electricity to make that up, even if they overcharged for it.

    Airports however are fee crazy and may very well charge for this. In particular, as their user base is trapped and also has fewer 'repeat customers', they can easily set it up with an account opening fee of some kind so they trememdously over charge you.

    But there is a lot more competition for free wifi at places like Starbucks and Burger King, that it makes more sense to give it away as a 'loss leader".

    • Airports however are fee crazy and may very well charge for this.

      In the 5 U.S. airports I've been through recently, all of them had 'charging stations', offered by... I think it was Samsung. Those could easily handle laptops and whatnot.

      That said, I haven't seen any airport try to 'secure' outlets used by cleaning crews and the like, or ever complain about people using them for their own stuff - even though they easily could.
      Usually others will complain, though, if you're hogging the outlet. I guess that

      • Even if you wanted to monitize power outlets, the easy thing to do would be to just make a long bench with cubicles and outlets connected to a little relay that turned the outlet on or off given how many quarters / tokens / credit cards or whatever coine of the realm in use were fed to to the machine.

        I think most of use could gin up a prototype in a couple of hours.

        If that's what they're trying to do, Sony is thinking way too hard.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:44PM (#39038631) Homepage Journal

      >>Airports however are fee crazy and may very well charge for this

      Yeah, trying to find power outlets in some airports is like a game of Where's Waldo. My local airport has all of the power outlets literally locked down under plates so that you can't get at them. In San Diego, I found a single open outlet behind a bunch of benches. I had to camp out next to the bathroom in SFO to recharge my phone while on a business trip. Etc.

      Some places have paid-by-ads (usually Samsung) charging stations, which are nice... when they work. Typically half the outlets on them will be broken.

      In all seriousness, airports are some of the least traveler-friendly places in America.

      • reminds me of looking for water faucets at outdoor concert venues...I don't go to airports often enough to speak on those.

    • Wellington airport offers free wifi. Auckland airport however does not.
  • My guess is something like the cover story will be the PS4 can plug directly into the power outlet on the back of a sony TV, but the outlet on the TV is limited via cheapness or just sheer desire to complicate stuff to only 2 amps, so unless you authenticate as a genuine 2 amp or less (Sony branded) load, the outlet will click off to protect the TV circuitry. Add a marketing blitz that the PS4 is the only blue ray video center thingy that can be powered directly off the TV and ... profit.

    I'm sure we'll hav

  • by bigtrike (904535) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:25PM (#39038457)

    With Sony DRM, your devices will fail to authenticate most of the time, saving a lot of electricity.

  • Other uses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by steveha (103154) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:26PM (#39038459) Homepage

    You might have a web page where you can pull up your current electricity consumption and break it down by appliance. You might find a new refrigerator would pay for itself, or maybe that your old refrigerator is doing okay; either way you won't have to guess.

    Also, I wonder if we will ever see "smart" plugs where the appliance negotiates with the socket for desired voltage and amperage. Instead of having a power brick that converts AC to 5 Volts, just have the smart plug request 5 Volts. I think not, actually, because you don't want transformers in every wall socket and DC is not efficient over longer distances (unless it's ultra-high-voltage).

    Also, "smart" plugs would have a safety advantage: if a little kid sticks a butter knife into the socket, the knife wouldn't request any voltage.

    But "smart" plugs are also just one more thing to break.

    Given the emerging standard for small electronic devices to run on 5 Volts and use a micro-USB socket for charging, I do wonder if power-only USB sockets will become common on electrical outlets. You can already buy [fastmac.com] wall fixtures with power-only USB sockets, and some cars have USB sockets available for charging phones and GPS sat-nav boxes.

    steveha

    • Stupid uses if you ask me...

      So now using your reasoning, we'll have to throw away all of our existing appliances and get 'smart ones'. I'm sorry but my $10 clock radio doesn't need firmware to negotiate with some plug. I want dumb appliances to plug in and work.

    • Re:Other uses (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pla (258480) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:42PM (#39039247) Journal
      You might have a web page where you can pull up your current electricity consumption and break it down by appliance. You might find a new refrigerator would pay for itself, or maybe that your old refrigerator is doing okay; either way you won't have to guess.

      Posting this on a den-o'-geeks, you preach to the choir about the perks of a totally "smart" grid.

      Most of us have no problem with envisioning the upsides. We have a problem with the massive downsides, however - Loss of privacy (search for "DEA electric bill"), loss of control over what I choose to use in my own home, loss of privacy (do you want your "personal massager" to report its usage?), the massively increased number of points of failure, loss of privacy ("So Mr. Smith, your wife would like you to explain to the court why your secretary charged her phone from an outlet in your bedroom 18 times over the past three months"), the possibility of hackers, etc.

      I want an internal (to my house) pure-smart-grid with per-device consumption tracking and control. And I want my electric company to have absolutely zero visibility or control to any of that. My electric company, OTOH, wants the exact opposite - To make me pay to upgrade to their control-fetishists dream, while making me pay pay pay for even the most basic stats about my own goddamned use.

      Fark 'em all. I'll pay 10x as much to go off-grid before I let anyone tell me how much of a resource I pay for I have permission to use at any given time.
  • " will be used in some places to charge consumers for the use of electricity."

    OMG, they might start charging us for use of electricity!
  • And they've had better objectives applied to them: http://www.ted.com/talks/john_la_grou_plugs_smart_power_outlets_1.htm [ted.com] l
  • by jedwidz (1399015) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:29PM (#39038493)

    Apart from better metering, I like the potential for improved safety that could come with redesigning outlets, if it means that:

    • A toddler can't stick metal objects in the socket and get electrocuted.
    • Power doesn't come on if it's at risk of overloading the circuit (i.e. maximum required current is negotiated against what's available).
    • Power doesn't come on if it's at the wrong voltage or frequency.
    • Power doesn't come on if the device requires grounding or surge/spike protection that isn't present.

    Also a good opportunity to get an international standard outlet (please, not the parallel pins), and a chance to look at DC from the socket. And maybe put an end to ground loops while we're at it?

    • Also a good opportunity to get an international standard outlet (please, not the parallel pins)

      I demand a proper smiley face. I want round eyes and a cheerful mouth. Mouth width can indicate how many amps the socket can handle. If we need a neutral line distinct from ground or a 3rd phase, add a nose.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:30PM (#39038511)

    Speaking as an electrician, I cannot imagine this ever becoming widespread. The ability to control power to and from each socket has existed for years. The reason we don't use it is mostly cost (each outlet needs a dedicated line back to a relay bank or a PLC).

    This new system is a little different in how it works, but cost is still going to be a huge factor involved, as well as practicallity. Most outlet boxes i've seen don't have the space to put in a GFCI let alone something as complicated as this.

    • by hawguy (1600213)

      Speaking as an electrician, I cannot imagine this ever becoming widespread. The ability to control power to and from each socket has existed for years. The reason we don't use it is mostly cost (each outlet needs a dedicated line back to a relay bank or a PLC).

      This new system is a little different in how it works, but cost is still going to be a huge factor involved, as well as practicallity. Most outlet boxes i've seen don't have the space to put in a GFCI let alone something as complicated as this.

      But the system becomes much cheaper when you can move control to the endpoints and use existing wiring for communications. If these outlets are mass produced they could be very cheap

      A hotel doesn't have to make much money per guest to make this worthwhile. If they install a $10000 controller, and pay $100/room replacing outlets in a 200 room hotel (labor can be effectively free if they do during periodic room refurbishing), that's $30,000 in capital costs. If they average 50% occupancy and earn just $1/day

  • This TED talk is much more interesting: http://www.ted.com/talks/john_la_grou_plugs_smart_power_outlets_1.html

    The developer points out, quite rightly, that supplying voltage to all outlets at all times is a child-risk and a fire hazard.

  • This tangentially reminds me of the concept of "micropayments". which most folks here would say is a "good thing", because they assume it would (only) facilitate doing useful things in the digital realm. Make no mistake, if it were easy to charge "trivial" amounts for trivial things in the real world too, it will be done.

    Right now, getting a sip of water, and sometimes charging your laptop is "free" in many public venues because those things are "too cheap to meter", just wait until it is no longer too c
  • [Sony] has developed a new power outlet that can identify who is connecting to it, and therefore allows for an individual to be charged for use.

    Obviously nobody at Sony has ever heard of a fucking switch.

    Here you go, [amazon.com] internet cafe owners considering this new technology; I just saved you thousands in retrofitting costs.

    You're welcome.

  • by EjectButton (618561) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:29PM (#39039091)
    Home automation is an industry that has the potential to be huge, and is ripe for growth. But Sony wont be the one to make it happen.

    The problem is that there are several players, each one using its own proprietary "standard" because they want to own the market by getting everyone to buy into their system. The major alternative is X10, which is open but is painfully archaic.

    So basically you have a handful of companies, each wanting 100% of the pie and refusing to work with anyone else. But no single player can produce a wide enough variety of products or get enough buy-in from manufacturers to reach critical mass, thus home automation remains a niche market. Each player ends up with 20% of a little tiny pie, instead of agreeing to inter-operate and all use the same open standard. If they did agree on a standard it would cause their market share would drop a couple percentage points but also allow the size of the total pie to increase by a couple orders of magnitude.

    I had high hopes when Google announced a year or so ago that they were going to make a push into home automation, they released a demo light bulb and had a press event and were never heard from again. I keep waiting for some company or consortium with a bit more foresight to blow this market open but it sure as hell won't be Sony with their track record of trying to own every platform they see (betamax, minidisc, atrack, memorystick, etc). They may think they finally "won" with blu-ray but I have yet to meet anyone who has burned a blu-ray disc and distributing video on physical media is on the way out.


    TL/DR version: Home automation right now is line cell phone chargers in the 90s, nothing works with anyone else, and they all kind of suck. We need a standardization-event (like when the EU/Asia mandated USB) and everyone will benefit together from something no one could do individually. Go ahead free market fundamentalists, call me a socialist, I can take it.
  • by aegl (1041528) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @06:38PM (#39039195)

    I remember the days when my laptop would only run for a couple of hours on battery and then die. Back then seats next to electrical outlets at airports and coffee shops were in high demand as the road warriors clustered around them.

    But now I have an "eight hour" battery (which I am sure will run for 5+ hours, perhaps more). So I don't care any more. A few days ago I was in a meeting with the projector connected to my laptop running on battery. A colleague helpfully passed me a power cord - and I literally stared at it for five seconds thinking "Why? I don't need this, the meeting will only run for another hour at most and I'm 100% confident that my battery will last."

    So there might have been a market for this up until 2010/2011 or so, but that market is disappearing fast. If your business model is to charge people $5 for $0.005 worth of electricity at airports ... you may need to rethink how much demand there will be.

  • *Facepalm* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lightknight (213164) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @07:00PM (#39039427) Homepage

    *Facepalms*...*Facepalms more*...I really need to know who thought that this was a good idea. Seriously, you have an incredibly large corporation with a fairly ridiculous amount of resources, and instead of investing time and research looking for a better 3D TV (one without glasses) or trying to move in on the data storage market by inventing a more capable SSD / HD, you come up with an electrical outlet that charges people for their usage of electricity? From a small-brained, shake-the-customer-down-like-he's-having-a-seizure for petty cash, perspective, that's positively brilliant! People will begin installing them everywhere (streets, the wilderness, who cares?), to try and get on the "energy outlet rent" train to easy street! And it's going to be awesome for the United States and select portions of Europe currently undergoing an energy crisis -> I'm sure their populaces will greet this idea with open arms and banners proclaiming the sheer glory of not only paying out the ass for oil & being on the hook (taxpayer-wise) for various failed green-power initiatives, but also for being nickle-and-dimed when they use their hotel room's outlets to charge their laptops. They should go right ahead, and install these kinds of outlets in public places, with set rates and what not, not unlike the private ATM machine craze that swept the nation a few years ago.

    And why not charge people for the toilet paper they use as well? You could install toilet paper dispensers in the restrooms, right next to the toilets, and charge people a quarter / square (why not also put a slot for a credit card on there, right? Minimum charge $2.00). Think of all the money that could be made! And let's be honest, it's not like someone's going to get up and leave without wiping their ass! You've got the marketplace cornered! Bonuses for everyone!

    It's like rubbing salt into someone's wounds. Might as well bring up a family death during a birthday party. It's odd, but I remember a time when Sony would actually create products that didn't leave the populace cowering in terror.
       

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