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Sony Outlets Control Electricity Through Authentication

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the papers-please dept.

Sony 284

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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Power piracy (5, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038281)

    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 (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Power piracy (5, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Power piracy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038617)

Woosh... Uhm the jokes on you...

Of course if you steal the outlet from the hotel and install it in your house, in the worst case, the hotel might bill you for the power you are using at home and your are already paying for already... doh... Can't wait to get on that bandwagon cloning those things...

Re:Power piracy (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

What could possibly go wrong? (2, Insightful)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038291)

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

NOT!

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (5, Funny)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038331)

OOohhhh ho ho!!!! I see what you did there...
You said one thing and then went all late 80s on your own sentence!

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038767)

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?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038873)

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.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038907)

Interesting...I could see that.

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

:)

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038987)

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?

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038829)

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

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038483)

Sure thing, and no worrying about rootkits existing in your FREAKING POWER OUTLETS here.....

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038517)

Well, Sony is an expert in security.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038725)

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 checking in with a Toaster Oven under each arm these days?

Now if they were electrifying their parking lots and wanted you to pay for charging all of those millions of electric cars that people travel with (snort), I could see it. But the linked article shows standard* room outlets, not parking lot outlets. (* Standard in some juristictions, I suppose. Not a ground prong to be seen. )

Wonderful typo! (2)

KNicolson (147698) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038893)

retched restaurants

Call me a ludite (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038303)

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

And as a bonus... (2)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038319)

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

TL;DR (1)

ebs16 (1069862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038333)

Is it proprietary?

Re:TL;DR (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038461)

Of course it is. 99.999% of new tech is.

Re:TL;DR (4, Informative)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038481)

Of course it is. Sony made it

FTFY

Re:TL;DR (1)

ebs16 (1069862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038627)

Well, I should have asked "how proprietary is it?" I assumed that it would be proprietary being that SONY made it, but I was hoping that these devices would play well with others. I can't imagine building proprietary technologies of that sort into a permanent structure. It's one thing to swap out a video player, it's another to tear up dry wall.

Re:TL;DR (3, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038823)

Since it is from Sony, I hear it will require the use of Memory Sticks.

Re:TL;DR (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038479)

When wireless charging takes off this is exactly what's going to happen. Sony will have a standard, Apple will have a standard, and everything else will use the agreed on open standard.

Re:TL;DR (0)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038645)

When wireless charging takes off this is exactly what's going to happen. Sony will have a standard, Apple will have a standard, and everything else will clone Apple because they have the market share.

I mean, be honest, why should it be any different this time?

Re:TL;DR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038827)

...and Microsoft will still cash in through riders on OEM licensing agreements, vaguely claiming they have a patent on some part of it, and rent-seeking.

Re:TL;DR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038839)

Gee thanks for making this an off-topic circlejerk.

Re:TL;DR (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038775)

When wireless charging takes off this is exactly what's going to happen. Sony will have a standard, Apple will have a standard, and everything else will use the agreed on open standard.

But nobody will install any strictly proprietary electrical outlet.

Ever hear of the National Electrical Code?

Re:TL;DR (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038587)

C'mon. It's Sony. The Godfather of vendor lock-in. Take a wild guess.

Re:TL;DR (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038753)

Everything on my side of the electric meter IS proprietary.

Disastrously bad idea (4, Interesting)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038339)

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.

Re:Disastrously bad idea (2)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038791)

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

Re:Disastrously bad idea (2)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038795)

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 about it and just add the price of the power usage in your coffee shop to the commodity prices. You still make a profit and require no costly infrastructure.

So the coffee costs another 10c per cup. I'm sure that customers though will appreciate an environment where you are not nickel'd and dime'd for every single little thing. Plus most places that a customer would be at long enough to charge are already figuring out how to cater to people who come in with laptops for long periods of time and still make a profit.

Pay your Sony bill (2)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038347)

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"...

Re:Pay your Sony bill (2)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038487)

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.

So, I would not read too much into it, it is just a demo of a niche application.

Re:Pay your Sony bill (1)

ngg (193578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038875)

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...

Re:Pay your Sony bill (4, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038597)

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.

Re:Pay your Sony bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038913)

How witty.

Still wrong [powerstream.com] though.

Nothing A Screwdriver and Some Clips Can't Fix... (2)

ilikenwf (1139495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038351)

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!

Re:Nothing A Screwdriver and Some Clips Can't Fix. (4, Funny)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038393)

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

Why.... are you a mean drunk?

Yo Grark

Re:Nothing A Screwdriver and Some Clips Can't Fix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038399)

HDMI huh?? Well, I'll just wire it into my VGA port.. wait a minute...

Re:Nothing A Screwdriver and Some Clips Can't Fix. (4, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038615)

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]

Re:Nothing A Screwdriver and Some Clips Can't Fix. (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038673)

DAT, MD and ATRAC were quite successful actually.

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

Re:Nothing A Screwdriver and Some Clips Can't Fix. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038793)

It is when you're talking about profit and widespread use.

Sony's insistence on control has been and will always be their downfall. The company is floundering heavily... a shame since they were once known for hardware quality.

Re:Nothing A Screwdriver and Some Clips Can't Fix. (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038963)

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.

Re:Nothing A Screwdriver and Some Clips Can't Fix. (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038759)

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 LED lighting powered by a single controller so it all (Lights, TV, heat, cooling, etc) will all be controlled by a single remote control.

and don't get me started on the minibars!

Hey - are you the guy that refilled the mini Jack Daniel's bottle with iced tea!?

Next up : Toilet scanners (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038367)

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.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (2)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038489)

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.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038497)

FTFY:

there is no end to 'charging' in fascism. 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.

If it were capitalism then there would be competition, there wouldn't be government influence to force you to use said product to force charging for everything.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038565)

the ultimate end of capitalism is aristocracy. through the process, you may pass through a period of fascism.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038685)

I don't know if aristocracy would be the correct term for it. I think it would probably be a special case of plutocracy, but the ruling bodies would not necessarily be real people but corporations. Certainly controlled by people, but the people themselves need neither be "special" nor particularly rich, as long as they have control over the corporation that rules certain parts of society.

In short, about what we have right now, but eliminating the middle man called politician.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (2)

composer777 (175489) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038661)

Own your failure, capitalist. If a system turns to shit, the results are still due to capitalism. Communists don't get to blame the USSR on incorrect implementation, nor do we get to blame the current state of the U.S. on fascism. It's capitalism, and repeating the experiment will produce the same results.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038887)

I reject the notion that capitalism is inherently bad. It can be a great convenience. However, as long as the system is designed to permit open-ended abuse, it is inherently bad. A constitution with "as necessary" clauses has back doors in.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (1)

digitalaudiorock (1130835) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038561)

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 product that someone actually wants.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038697)

Laws are cheaper to develop than product ideas.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (3, Interesting)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038579)

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.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038763)

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

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038811)

Charging people per ounce of shit? There are precedents for that.

They call them taxes, and the government charges you for the shit it lays on you.

Re:Next up : Toilet scanners (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038925)

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.

And next thing we know: (2)

sehlat (180760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038373)

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.

Re:And next thing we know: (1)

Spectre (1685) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038427)

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.

Or, alternatively, if you haven't installed the latest DMCA-laden update to your PlayStation, it is no longer "authorized" to power up at all ... or, it powers up, but your non-Sony stereo can't ... the craziness this could be put to is nearly infinite.

Sony controlling my electricity, that's just great (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038375)

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

And who's gonna pay for this... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038379)

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.

Re:And who's gonna pay for this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038549)

Where did you get that idea?
To QTFA:

"Sony hopes to employ technology from its touch-card platform, Felica, which uses RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology and is widely used in Japanese trains, mobile phones and credit cards for electronic money. The new system puts the equivalent of Felica "readers" in outlets and equips plugs with the "card" technology, so that the equivalent of a "touch" occurs when a power cord is plugged in and the two sides meet."

Sounds like it could to added to existing connector types with ease.

Re:And who's gonna pay for this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038595)

If by "typical connectors" you mean standard Japanese power outlets (for a company based in Japan), then yes.

Re:And who's gonna pay for this... (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038609)

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.

Airports about to screw us, but not coffee shops (2)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038395)

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".

Re:Airports about to screw us, but not coffee shop (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038523)

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's why the 'charging stations' started to appear.. they're little more than dressed up outlet multipliers - a single vacuum cleaner would easily draw more juice than a dozen laptops.

Re:Airports about to screw us, but not coffee shop (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038703)

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.

Re:Airports about to screw us, but not coffee shop (4, Informative)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038631)

>>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.

Re:Airports about to screw us, but not coffee shop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038801)

I have no problem finding power outlets in the first class lounges.

Re:Airports about to screw us, but not coffee shop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038755)

Let's think about this. A laptop might use under 100 watts. Even if someone uses it for a couple hours, at about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, that's only a couple cents. Maybe their target audience isn't people with mobile electronics. It'd be stupid if airports were to implement this. The cost per passenger is so little that the potential loss of customers would be harmful, right?

Only Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038441)

Is it just me or does the just seem right in line with the way Sony thinks? Treat your customer like crap, charge them for anything and everything, and make sure your media is incompatible with everyone else's.

Cover story (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038445)

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 have "sony outlets" and "sony chargers" deployed to the world, right after we deploy X-10 home automation across the world, 40 years for that and waiting.

The other game I can see playing is something weird along the line of advancing the tech, running USB over power lines, which only activates the USB-over-power circuitry if the authentication system verifies its good. I donno why you'd wanna run USB over power lines, but... power lines don't work for networking, all the internet-over-power companies have failed and gone out of business, correct?

Corporate "authentication" vs Consumer demands. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038451)

Can't wait for a sony socket that wont power some device because it's not "authenticated". Or it would ruin "my" experience/device. And Sony's bank account.

I'm not worried. (1)

dittbub (2425592) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038453)

Are you worried? I'm not worried about it.

Re:I'm not worried. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038715)

Neither am I. It would be the first Sony lock-in standard in a long, long time that gained any measurable traction.

It will save a lot of power (4, Funny)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038457)

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

Other uses (5, Insightful)

steveha (103154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038459)

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

Re:Other uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038853)

I'm terribly sad that I had to read this far down the page to see some actual brainpower used on a post.

Sony is in charge of DLNA too (it's their standard) and while DLNA is basically DRM on top of UPnP, the DLNA adoption has overall been good for people who've wanted to do less common things with their hardware. I wouldn't jump to a bad conclusion about this automatically. It's far more likely that the kinds of people who buy Kill-a-Watt devices will also buy this.

charge for electricity? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038471)

" will be used in some places to charge consumers for the use of electricity."

OMG, they might start charging us for use of electricity!

Could be good for safety (4, Interesting)

jedwidz (1399015) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?

Re:Could be good for safety (0)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038737)

And here I was, thinking that this time nobody could come up with a "thinkofthechildren" argument.

I stand corrected.

Re:Could be good for safety (2)

poppopret (1740742) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038977)

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.

Energy sector (0)

Nonillion (266505) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038495)

The energy sector will stop at nothing to over charge and fuck you till you're in energy poverty.

Electric Outlets with Copy protection built in (0)

kawabago (551139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038501)

They probably will be set up to only allow SONY authorized devices to draw power. My electricity usage is already gauged by my supplier, why do I need SONY sticking it's nose where it has no business going? This is nothing more than an attempt to put even more controls on what people can do in their own homes. SONY is not a company that has consumer's best interests at heart and this proposal is more proof of that. SONY APPLE MICROSOFT, who else wants on the NO BUY list, it's free to join!

Re:Electric Outlets with Copy protection built in (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038713)

Or perhaps, as is much, much, much more likely, it's designed for use *outside the home* at places like bars, airports, malls, coffee shops, restaurants, remote rest areas etc to provide a way to offer power to travelling people who need a quick boost.

Who said it was for the home, or did you just leap on it and froth because it mentioned Sony?

Re:Electric Outlets with Copy protection built in (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038971)

Or perhaps, as is much, much, much more likely, it's designed for use *outside the home* at places like bars, airports, malls, coffee shops, restaurants, remote rest areas etc to provide a way to offer power to travelling people who need a quick boost.

I suspect you meant 'charge travelling people for power', since offering power to them is trivial... just ensure there are plenty of power outlets. So instead of them using $0.02 of power while eating a $20 meal, you can charge them $20 for that $0.02 of power.

Expect to pay for the privilige to be monitored (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Expect to pay for the privilige to be monitored (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038895)

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/room in power fees, that's 365 * 200 * 50% * $1 = $36K per year. So the system has paid for itself after the first year.

Power surges (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038573)

Can now wipe out every socket in your home or business.

Trains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038601)

I could see this being used on trains.

I've noticed a sharp rise in trains coming with plug sockets recently.

"Buy your season socket access today!"
Or if you don't have one, you get 5 minutes free then it stops.

Much More Important -- Smart Socket can save lives (1)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038605)

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.

Re:Much More Important -- Smart Socket can save li (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038835)

That's been fixed by cheap $.10 plastic covers for decades. Nevermind the fact that the dimensions of the outlet opening are physically impossible to insert fingers in the first place (in the US they are about 3/8" or more recessed into a 1/16" wide opening.)

The only way that could happen is if you give said small child something like a pointed metal object that they shouldn't have anyway and they shove it in there.

Or you could just shut the breaker off to the room if you are that paranoid, it's not like we haven't standardized on 1 breaker for lights and 1 for outlets per room for a while now.

Re:Much More Important -- Smart Socket can save li (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038979)

Yeah, right. Arc fault circuit interrupters have been required in new construction the US since 2005. These circuit breakers detect not just current leakage to ground like a GFCI, but noisy current draw that indicates arcing. No need for an Internet connection.

Be careful what you wish for... (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038709)

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 cheap to meter.

Paying is one thing, but of course, along with "micropayments" will be "microrecordingofyoureverymove", and that is one thing that this crowd is usually NOT for.

Most tabs at the end of a power cable in the US... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038747)

... have small "holes" in them. Surely a relay would be able to snap two metal bars into those holes and keep your appliance hostage until you pay the bill (with the credit card swipe on the side of the outlet). That's why I'll always carry a pair of wire cutters aboard the aircra...

NO CARRIER

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