Apple files patents for smart home energy management dashboard


Cupertino, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 19, 2010 – Apple is the latest company looking to weigh in to the home energy management market, with patents filed for a smart home energy management dashboard system that “packs a punch,” according to the company’s patent review blog, Patently Apple.

“The device begins by sounding like a standard iPod or iPhone by describing such things as a touch screen, audio speakers, media playback and storage … and, let it be said, could be yet another tablet application,” stated Patently Apple.

The patents, which were filed in May 2009, describe an intelligent power monitoring system that manages the power supplied to peripheral electronic devices, based on their predicted power requirements and other factors such as the associated time-based costs of that power.

Household power consumption continues to increase as the number of electronic devices proliferates, states the intelligent power monitoring patent application, citing as background the monitoring of power usage in a computer or other processor-based device.

Portable media players, mobile telephones, personal digital assistants, and other portable electronic devices have batteries that must be charged. Moreover, as users spend more time engaged in on-line activities, personal computers and other fixed electronic devices are being left on for longer periods, and even continually. Some personal computers are being left on simply to serve as power supplies for the charging of the aforementioned portable devices via connections, such as USB, even though the power supply of a personal computer is much larger than is needed for such a function, and as such draws much more power than such a function would otherwise demand. As the price of electricity increases, such uses of power can cost users more.

The second patent application pertains to the intelligent power-enabled communications port on the device, through which communications occur to the peripheral devices. This communication between devices would be by power line communication, either via the HomePlug protocol, or one of the other protocols under development, such as those by the Universal Powerline Association, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, the Consumer Electronics Powerline Communications Alliance, the Open PLC European Research Alliance (OPERA), the standard of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector, or the IEEE 643-2004 standard, while power is supplied via a variable power supply.

Other possible peripheral devices include printer, mouse, keyboard, mobile device, audio components such as speakers or microphone, digital camera, flash drive, USB hub, smart card reader, webcam or authentication device, as well as lights, hot plate, cooler, solar charger, etc., which would only supply power to the management device.

“Get ready folks, because this looks like Apple is ramping this up for sometime in the near future,” according to Patently Apple.