Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smart wireless power outlets

01.08.2012
Many homeowners dream of being able to wash a load of laundry when the photovoltaic panels on the roof are delivering a maximum of electricity, even when they are not at home. A new Internet-enabled power outlet will soon allow users to control household appliances via their smartphone, and reduce their energy costs into the bargain.

Soon there will be no need for special timers to switch lighting on and off or operate household appliances when the homeowner is absent. In future, all this can be done by means of a smartphone or PC, thanks to Internet-enabled wireless power outlets that support the new IPv6 Internet protocol.


The table lamp can be switched on and off by means of a smartphone app – thanks to the HexaBus wireless power outlet.
© Fraunhofer ESK

The smart socket was developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication Systems ESK in Munich in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern and the industrial partner embedded brains GmbH. “We have been able to connect the power outlets wirelessly using the IPv6 protocol,” says ESK research engineer Günter Hildebrandt. “All household appliances plugged in one of the sockets can be switched on and off remotely using an IPv6-compatible device such as a smartphone or laptop PC – from anywhere.”

The wireless power outlets are a component of the HexaBus home automation system that was developed by the ITWM as part of the mySmartGrid project (www.mysmartgrid.de). “The HexaBus components make the smart home of the future a reality. They enable household appliances to be controlled intelligently, thus optimizing or reducing electricity consumption. For example, the householder can start the washing machine during cheap-rate off-peak hours, or run the dishwasher when the photovoltaic panels on the roof are generating sufficient power,” says industrial engineer Mathias Dalheimer of the ITWM, who leads the SmartGrid project and is its chief programmer.

Intelligent control and measurement of power consumption

In addition to the wireless power outlets, the HexaBus system employs a specially designed USB stick that plugs into any compatible, off-the-shelf router. The user enters the command to switch on an appliance via a standard web browser or an Android-compatible smartphone app. The router and stick then forward the data to the power outlet. This two-way communication function also allows the wireless power outlet to send data to the smartphone, informing the user how much power various appliances are consuming at any given time. Thus, the user can optimize their power consumption. “The combination of parallel control and measurement functions is an entirely novel feature that no other wireless power outlet has offered before,” says Hildebrandt.

Because the HexaBus system is based on the IPv6 data communication protocol, a separate IP address is assigned to each power outlet, and thereby to each connected appliance, enabling them to be accessed directly. But how did the researchers go about integrating Internet functionality in the wireless power outlets and USB sticks? To do so, Hildebrandt and his team developed special protocol software and an extension to the Contiki operating system that enables it to handle the 6LoWpan (IPv6 over Low power Wireless Personal Area Network) communication protocol. Contiki is an open-source operating system for networked embedded devices such as the microcontrollers incorporated in wireless power outlets and USB sticks. A linked web browser protocol enables users to assign a separate name to each power outlet – such as “washingmachine.basement”.

Guaranteed data security

Users have no need to worry about the security of their data – all information is transmitted in encrypted form. To make this possible, the experts modified Contiki to enable it to operate with the AES-128 advanced encryption standard. Wireless control signals are transmitted in the 868-MHz frequency band. “This permits users to remotely control a widely distributed network of appliances. The distance between the power outlet and the router can be as high as 30 meters,” explains Hildebrandt.

The HexaBus power outlets are ready for commercial application. Their manufacture has been entrusted to embedded brains GmbH, the industrial partner that was also responsible for the hardware development of the power outlets and USB sticks. Meanwhile, the researchers have a new idea up their sleeves: they want to enhance their system with multihop networking capability. By linking together a series of power outlets, the router will be able to pass messages from one to another, thus extending the range of the communication system – a solution that could be of interest to businesses for their office buildings and industrial sites.

Günter Hildebrandt | Fraunhofer Research News
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2012/august/smart-wireless-power-outlets.html

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>