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Pay as you go: The future of energy needs?

Pay as you go: The future of energy needs?

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Sony hopes that 'smart sockets' could become a way to regulate energy use in the future.

Sony is currently developing electric wall sockets and plugs that can control power consumption by device, user preference or original power sources.

The Japanese technology giant demonstrated some of its models Tuesday in Tokyo, including 'smart sockets' that control the flow of electricity based on a user or device; and a power grid that could allow a homeowner to track electricity use rates by appliance and measures of time. This means that the smart sockets can 'refuse' to power a device which has not received previous authorization.

The technology developed by Sony originates from its touch-card platform, FeliCa, which uses RFID (radio-frequency identification) in order to facilitate communication among devices and machines including trains, mobile phones and credit cards, and is already widely used in Japan.

To allow 'authentic' connections across a home's power lines, Sony plans to develop a system that allows a single RFID reader to supply entire households. The company also said that this concept has the potential to be applied to public power supplies -- such as airport power outlets or to charge electronic vehicles. By using personal touch cards, a consumer could 'log in' and use power in a 'pay as you go' system.

As it has been used across the country to connect electronic outlets, the technology does not need to be tested widely to prove it works and has an acceptable level of security. However, the development of an infrastructure with 'smart' final destination outlets that will be usable in both a commercial and consumer sense on a country-wide scale is going to have to be a long term project -- and creating such a power grid will be no easy task to perform.

The future aim is to cut down on wasted energy sources through these intelligent power grids, and improve energy infrastructures around the globe. For Japan, which has suffered unpredictable energy blackouts after natural disasters disrupted its nuclear power plants, a move to renewable resources is becoming more urgent.

There is no firm date when the technology will become available for the general public, but there is hope that after cooperating with device makers, power companies and developers the technology will not be long in arrival -- changing standard outlets that have not been improved upon for many years.

Eventually, this technology could become a way for users to control where there energy comes from -- and therefore rely less on simply one power source. In turn, renewable energy sources can become more integrated within family homes.

(via PCWorld)

Thumbnail credit: Sony

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure