Every once in a while we're given insights to systems that could be game changers and while not apparently sexy at the moment, Apple surprises us with a peek at their coming Smart Home Energy Management Dashboard System that packs a punch. Apple's patent reviews technology related to this system that many simply know as HomePlug Powerline Networking. HomePlug Powerline Networking turns every power outlet in your home or office into a conduit for audio, video and data. Wireless technologies could be prone to dead-spots and fading - but with HomePlug certified adapters you just plug them in and within minutes you have high speed internet coming out of every plug in the house. You could do the same thing for HDTV and iTunes. Get ready folks, because this looks like Apple is ramping this up for sometime in the near future. And, let it be said, could be yet another tablet application.
The Device: Basic
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic view of an illustrative electronic device in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. FIGS. 2A and 2B are schematic views of illustrative ports for use in an electronic device. FIG. 3 is a schematic view of illustrative components of a connector in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
While the device being described in the patent begins by sounding like a standard iPod or iPhone by describing such things as a touch screen, audio speakers, media playback and storage – it then takes a series of twists that leaves you saying: What is this?
One of the features that are unique to this device includes a video projection system which the patent describes as "display circuitry that could include a movable display or a projections system for providing a display of content on a surface remote from the electronic device (e.g. a video projector)." Is this a reference to a pico projector?
Then the system comes into view: We're looking at an all new Smart Home Energy Management System from Apple.
The Device: Detailed
Power Circuitry: Power circuitry 112 can include any suitable circuitry for providing power to components of electronic device 100. For example, the power circuitry can include one or more of a battery (e.g., a gel, nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium, nickel hydrogen, lead acid, or lithium-ion battery), an uninterruptible or continuous power supply (UPS or CPS), and circuitry for processing power received from a power generation source (e.g., power generated by an electrical power plant and delivered to the user via an electrical socket). The received power can be provided as alternating current or direct current, and processed to transform power or limit received power to particular characteristics. For example, received power can be transformed to or from direct current, and constrained to one or more values of average power, effective power, peak power, energy per pulse, voltage, current (e.g., measured in amperes), or any other characteristic of received power. In particular, power circuitry 112 can be rated for particular voltage or current amounts, or require minimum or maximum voltage and current for proper operation. In some embodiments, power circuitry 112 can be coupled to communications circuitry 110 or be coupled or incorporated with communications circuitry to provide a mechanism for simultaneously transferring data and power using one or more protocols (e.g., using a USB or FireWire connector with the corresponding protocol).
Power Supply: Each peripheral device coupled to the electronic device can receive power from the electronic device power supply. Each peripheral device, however, can require different amounts of power, based for example on the components of the peripheral device, the power allocation as determined by a protocol, or any other suitable criteria. In some embodiments, the power requirements of each peripheral device can be different, for example due to changes in protocols over time, or other power sources available to each device (e.g., a peripheral device can include a battery, or be directly connected to a power source).
Communications Port: Using a communications port of the device, one or more peripheral devices can be coupled to the electronic device. If the communications port is coupled with or includes power circuitry, power can be provided from the electronic device to the one or more peripheral devices. The periphery device can include, for example, a printer, mouse, keyboard, communications accessory (e.g., a Bluetooth adapter or cellular data card), mobile device (e.g., cellular telephone or portable media device), audio components (e.g., speakers, a microphone, or a sound card), digital camera, mass storage device (e.g., flash drive, memory card reader, or an external drive), hub (e.g., USB hub), smart card reader, webcam, authentication device (e.g., fingerprint dongle), or any other device operative to receive or transmit data to the electronic device. In some embodiments, the periphery device can include a device operative to receive only power from the electronic device. Such devices can include, for example, a light, hot plate, cooler or refrigeration system, solar charger, or any other suitable device.
Communication Protocols: To allow peripheral devices to operate properly despite limitations due to the communications protocol power settings, a separate communications protocol can be grafted to the existing standard to control the delivery of power. The separate communications protocol can include, for example, a power line communications protocol. Any one of the many power line communications protocols currently available or under development may be used. These can include the X10 protocol currently used primarily for home automation, or any of the protocols of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, of which the HomePlug 1.0 networking protocol is an example. Other protocols in various stages of development that may be used include those being developed by the Universal Powerline Association, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, the Consumer Electronics Powerline Communications Alliance, the Open PLC European Research Alliance (OPERA) being funded by the European Commission, the G.hn standard of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), or the IEEE 643-2004 standard of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Home with Embedded Power-Enabled Data Ports
Apple's patent Figures below: FIG. 5 is a schematic view of an illustrative building having embedded power-enabled data ports for coupling peripheral devices in accordance with one embodiment of the invention; FIG. 6 is a diagram of a junction box incorporating a port according to the present invention along with a mains power receptacle; and FIG. 7 is a single wiring device incorporating both a port according to the present invention along with a mains power receptacle.
Flow Chart: Determining the Amount of Power
Apple's patent FIG. 4 is a flowchart of an illustrative process for determining the amount of power to provide to a peripheral device coupled to a host device in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
Illustrative Device Displays
Patent Figures Information: FIG. 2 is a schematic view of an illustrative display for managing power consumption; FIG. 3 is a schematic view of an illustrative display for managing the power consumption costs of individual processes; FIG. 4 is a schematic view of an illustrative display for managing the power consumption costs of individual electronic devices in a network; FIG. 5 is a schematic view of an illustrative display screen for defining the power consumption characteristics of a new process; FIG. 6 is a schematic view of an illustrative display provided prior to exceeding set power consumption characteristics, and patent FIG. 7 is a schematic view of an illustrative display for providing a representation of power costs.
Intel Concept - Home Energy Management Dashboard
During last week's Intel CES keynote report I stated the following: "On a last note, Otellini introduced the Home Energy Management Dashboard that any Macite would recognize as yet another potential opportunity for Apple to deliver yet another style of in-home tablet in the future. The unit utilized widgets and or iApp style icons, a video messaging app and likely another in-home wireless phone option, being that the device clearly demonstrated a Yellow Pages icon.
Here's what Otellini had to say about this product: "As I look forward, just like I've seen in the world of computing, I believe that the world of entertainment will also be driven by Moore's Law. But computing in the home is not just about entertainment. Security, personal finance, video conferencing, home business, health - are always changing the computer the way we live. For Example many people are increasingly concerned about energy. Technology, I think has the potential of saving money and save the environment. In the United States, the demand for electricity will grow 19% in the next decade. On the other side of it, capacity will only grow 6%. The only way to solve this mismatch is to be efficiency into the system. Intelligent systems have the potential to reduce the household energy consumption by 31%."
One week later to the date, and we now see Apple's rendition of an In-Home Energy Management Dashboard System.
HomePlug Powerline Networking turns every power outlet in your home or office into a conduit for audio, video and data. Wireless technologies could be prone to dead-spots and fading. But with HomePlug certified adapters you just plug them in and with minutes you have high speed internet coming out of every plug in the house. You could do the same thing for HDTV and even music (video shows iPod). Tired of earbuds? - How about getting whole house music from your iPod. The video below you'll see the HomePlug Powerline Alliance show Apple products several times.
Apple credits Anthony Fadell as the sole inventor of patent applications 20100007473 and 20100010857, originally filed for in Q2 2009.
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