Smart Grid

November 12, 2012

New 'Smart' Power Strip Makes Coffee, Watches Kids

Don’t let the narrow girth of a new power strip from Plano, Texas-based PowerUSB fool you; it has extremely broad applications.

 Most people probably take the lowly power strip for granted, but a new generation of "smart" power strips can do a lot more than just avoid power surges. The truth is that power strips, like phones, just keep getting more intelligent – and now, the appropriately named PwrUSB SMART can do everything from monitoring TV programs and gaming activities that children access to scheduling the time at which your morning coffee is brewed to creating a splendid holiday light show.

 "The SMART is our first power strip that is targeted toward end users," commented Patsy Lundin, vice president of Sales and Marketing at PowerUSB. "It is both a power- saving and power -control[ling] device."

The four-outlet PwrUSB SMART power strip offers the functionality of power control without being tied to a computer – and this, according to Lundin, is its key advantage. The SMART is a programmable power strip with a digital display and USB interface.

"The unit can be programmed by attaching it to a computer via USB and then can be used as a stand-alone unit," explained the company’s Chief Technology Officer, Raum Pattikonda, "and the individual outlets can be programmed to switch on at certain times." 

The SMART boasts an LCD that displays time, power consumption, next scheduled up-time and other information. It also offers several modes of operation, including a calendar-based and master load-based switch-on.

"This is truly the smartest power strip currently available on the market," avowed Raum, "with the maximum features and functionality in the PowerUSB family of models. The SMART is not only great for power conservation, but you can also monitor your kids' TV watching or limit their X-box time, even when you're not at home. And there are dozens of other possible household uses. By using the SMART's frequency options, for example, you can control your Christmas lighting and even create a fantastic light show. Moreover, you can use the calendar function to control pet food or drink dispensers, or even turn on your coffee maker at a certain time. There are dozens of possible uses."

He added, "Other strips may call themselves 'smart,' but the PwrUSB Smart is truly the smartest strip available on the market today, and it's the only strip to be controlled via software. It is also the most customizable, since it comes with API [application programming interface] for your own programming needs."

What’s more, “You can use the SMART for power savings and automation by turning off devices when not in use," said Shariq Hamid, president of PowerUSB. "You can also monitor any network device by using the 'Ping' function to reboot, if the device is not responding."

Home use is just the beginning for the PwrUSB SMART, as there are many other potential applications, Shariq commented. For instance, he anticipates a lot of interest from the gaming industry, as well as from manufacturers and operators of photo booths and medical testing equipment, because of SMART’s ability to control power based on different inputs.

The PwrUSB SMART is the fourth in the company's line of power strips. Others include:

·         The Basic, an energy-saving device that switches on computer-connected peripheral devices only when needed and also can monitor router/modem and reboot automatically if required;

·          The Digital IO, a low-cost integrated PLC (programmable logic controller) and USB interface device for mediating digital Inputs and outputs; and

·         The Watchdog, which is designed to prevent computer "hang-ups" by monitoring and hard re-booting a "hung" computer automatically.

While the SMART is the latest in the line, the company stresses that the Basic, Digital IO, and Watchdog also represent advancement over the "old" generation of power strips. "We're taking cutting-edge technology, originally created for industrial applications, and adapting it for home and small business use," said Raum. "We believe that users who switch their existing power strips to one of the PwrUSB models will see a significant savings in electricity usage, as well as, in the case of the SMART, remarkable automation capabilities."

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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo