Engineers have created a solid-state digital power management and control system for commonplace electrical appliances that could interconnect and communicate with any household in real-time.
Through removing the need for transformers, magnets and relays found inside everyday objects such as wall sockets and replacing them with smaller, more durable solid-state circuit boards a quarter of motion sensors, voice commands, smoke alarms, Wi-Fi signal boosters, energy meters and a variety of other helpful devices can also be equipped with the same dimensions, connection points or light switches.
San Francisco-based Amber Solutions says it envisages a home where every electrical endpoint is part of the new, hyper-intelligent architecture, creating an energy consciousness and automation sensor and feature-rich ecosystem directly inside the entire building’s energy grid.
Although there is nothing new about the idea of a digital home, what is unique about this device is that it can be built with minimal effort inside an existing structure and does not allow it to implemented in the design or development process. This goes for homes and businesses alike.
“Solid-state electricity regulation changes the rules for all – protection and regulation devices, circuit breakers, lighting fixtures, appliances, dimmer switches – the list goes on forever,” Amber CEO Thar Casey told Forbes.
“By commercially integrating our technologies inside the current electrical infrastructure of any house, any home or business can add functionality to IoT [Internet of Things] overnight by replacing existing outlets and switches with Amber-enabled devices. Now manufacturers can go directly out of the box engineer and sell driven goods with much higher capabilities, “Casey said.
The prototype seen in the above video was shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in January in Las Vegas. The outlet is wirelessly controllable (Zigbee, Wi-Fi, BTle) with motion detection, gas detection, temperature, and humidity detection, power metering separately for both ports, native over-current (which acts as a circuit breaker) and surge safety in a regular 18 cubic inch.
The Amber monitor light switch provides outlet features, including a capacitive touch LCD pad, visual monitoring of temperature, humidity, energy consumption, and serves as a display panel to regulate other electronic devices – all inside the same room usually used to house a connection point or light switch.
According to Casey, the company has received five patents to date and has pending more than 31 patents, plus signing agreements to develop the product with five top manufacturers in the industry ($50billion+).
“Imagine if somebody told you all the things a smartphone would eventually do, 20 years ago. That would have been incomprehensible. This is the same precipice on which we stand when assessing the future of in-home electricity. The light switch or electrical outlet, which hasn’t been changed for decades, has been limited in its potential-so far, “Casey said.
One of the most significant and most important advantages will be greater control – and thus saving – of the electricity used in the home and on an even bigger scale, also in an office building. In addition to the new digital power control system being able to help raise awareness at home of how much electricity is being used, Casey says the technology will be able to reduce the electricity consumption.
“We can bring these outlets into a mode of sleep where they don’t continue to charge money. There are devices for the motion sensor that you can buy to plug into your outlet that switch off when no motion is detected, but they are pricey. These devices can integrate, or better, the same technology inside each outlet.
Casey says there’s still a lot more to this emerging technology, but at this early stage of growth, he can’t talk about it yet. We get fascinated.