A team of scientists have devised an application for cell phones which can assist in saving power by listing the energy consumption of individual devices in the household.
The application was recently unveiled at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information echnology (FIT) in Sankt Augustin, Germany.
The basis for this program is the "Hydra" middleware developed by the institute which is extended by an energy protocol.
A middleware reduces the workload of programmers. In Hydra's case, it is reduced by administering the communication between devices.
Each device is given a power plogg, which is a small adapter located between the power plug and the power outlet.
It reports the power consumption at any given time to a PC via a radio signal.
People can tell which device is guzzling the most energy by taking a look at the computer monitor.
But, the FIT experts have also provided a far more convenient way to access the information.
"Using a cell phone as the display and control unit allows people to check the energy consumed by their devices or appliances," explained Dr. Markus Eisenhauer, who developed the system.
"For example, it can be used to display the consumption by room, switch devices on and off, and dim lights," he added.
"And there is another special attraction: The cell phone's camera can be used as a "magic lens". Point the camera at the device in question, and the power consumption at the moment is shown," he said.
A server stores pictures of the individual devices, taken from a number of directions.
When the function is activated, the cell phone sends the picture taken to the server, which then compares the picture with the ones in its database.
As soon as it has recognized the device, it determines the power consumption at the time as reported by the associated power plogg, and sends this information back to the cell phone.
The result is a multitude of options that allow people to analyze the power consumption of their devices.
The total energy consumed by a device is a calculation of its power and the respective time that it s in use.
In addition to the power at any given time, it is also possible to examine a device's total consumption, for example, extrapolated across the average time in use during a year.
This even makes it possible to detect energy guzzlers in the household that are not always turned on.