Sony develops power outlet that can recognize devices and users


March 21, 2012

Sony's Authenticated Power Outlet system currently consists of a plug and outlet that communicate wirelessly

Sony's Authenticated Power Outlet system currently consists of a plug and outlet that communicate wirelessly

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Sony has developed a power outlet that can identify devices plugged into it, as well as individuals using the plug. The company says such technology could allow the electricity usage of individual devices to be monitored so non-essential devices could be switched off remotely in the event of limited electricity supply, or for the billing of customers charging their electric vehicles or mobile devices in public places.

The Authentication Power Outlet relies on Sony’s FeliCa technology – a contactless RFID smart card system developed by Sony mainly for use in electronic payment systems, such as Hong Kong’s Octopus card system.

When a device is plugged in, a FeliCa Lite chip built into the plug relays information about the electrical device to a reader/writer built into the outlet. While the plug and outlet communicate through a wireless antenna in the current system, the company is also developing a version that exchanges data through the power cable.

While existing electrical devices will function as normal with the chip-embedded plug, future devices could have the FeliCa chip built in and the outlet-side reader/writer could be located in the distribution board, allowing existing power outlets to be used without modification.

Authenticated devices can be monitored and have their power supply controlled remotely, allowing non-essential devices to be shut off when electricity supply is limited to ensure more essential devices, such as healthcare equipment and refrigerators, remain running.

The system also allows individual users to identify themselves with a wave of a smartcard over the power outlet. This would allow users to be charged and supplied with power from a public electrical outlet for a specific period of time – when charging up an electric vehicle, for example.

Sony hasn’t decided when to release the system commercially, but says it would require the involvement of other manufacturers and power supply companies to be viable.

The video below from DigInfo.TV shows the Authentication Power Outlet system in action.

Source: DigInfo.TV

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

I was wondering why the electrical plug hasnt changed more over the many years. Would it be possible, say, to make the 'outlet' a circular induction pad that you simply have a magnetic cord you place on it. being a covered induction pad, it is safe from little fingers, and the magent will hold it as firm as a plug with no bent wires, etc. Also the magnetic plug could be flat (cord out the side) and thus less noticable.


re; yinfu99

Aside from the cost of switching from one standard to another the induction coil eats electricity weather or not the receiver is in place, it is less efficient even when the receiver is in place, and letting a little kid get a good shock will teach them to treat electricity with respect.


Sounds like spy hardware

Dawar Saify

"switched off remotely in the event of limited electricity supply"

Uh, I don't think I have ever encountered a situation where this was an issue.


Just another way for the government to monitor the use of certain devices, where we are at any given time and theoretically, the ability to deny service if deemed necessary. And no, I'm not a conspiracy theorist and wear a tin foil hat. This type of technology, in the wrong hands, can be an invasion of privacy.


It's good innovative technology. This makes the electricity use of all your household appliances transparent and lets you know what appliances are drawing power in standby excessively (think old appliances from the 90's). You can have a good hand in your electricity bill if you slash out the non-essentials.

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret

Yinfu, Actually, I think that your idea, combined with user ID (in other words, the device turns off and ceases using power when not being accessed) would be a great idea for public outlets, making them worry-free weather proof, easy to keep clean, and not so open to misuse. You could sell the adapter with an imbedded ID, so that power conversion and tracking could be combined.

As for those of you calling this "spy hardware" give it a break. You think the internet doesn't already know the location of the computer you posted that from? This might see implementation in hotels and airports, or in shared living spaces (common areas of condo complexes) but a government that can't afford to repair the streets outside your house isn't going to suddenly try and replace all outlets with a system like this, and places that make their money attracting people to sit and study are not going to risk their business model by charging for something as cheep as electrical power.

Charles Bosse

re; Ed

How long ago was it that there were brown & blackouts in California because of insufficient generating capacity.


re: Sony "develops"?

back in 2006 2D2C inc. perfected and released the use of very short range RFID plug and outlet technology for child safety, appliance protection and (in 2009) zigbee home automation and utility demand response. It is called SafePlug. Maybe Gizmag will cover it in a future article.

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