Fraunhofer Institute for Communication Systems ESK develops smart wireless power outlets
August 03, 2012 // Paul Buckley
A new Internet-enabled power outlet was developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication Systems ESK in Munich will allow users to control household appliances via their smartphone, and reduce their energy costs into the bargain.
The smart socket was developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern and the industrial partner embedded brains GmbH.
The solution means that 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.
“We have been able to connect the power outlets wirelessly using the IPv6 protocol,” said 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,” said industrial engineer Mathias Dalheimer of the ITWM, who leads the SmartGrid project and is its chief programmer.
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. The 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,” said 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”.
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,” explained 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.
Floating surge stopper provides unlimited overvoltage protection
May 17, 2013
Protecting sensitive electronic circuitry from voltage transients is an essential part of any system be it automotive, industrial, ...
Altera to integrate Enpirion power interfaces into its FPGAs
Automation CAN group plans permanent interoperability test capability
Opening up new user-interaction scenarios with Time-of-Flight measurements
Goepel electronic initiates Cooperation Network with EMS companies
The number of charging stations for electrical vehicles is expected to soar by 20220, study says
May 17, 2013
The number of electric vehicle charging stations is set to soar globally by 2020, supporting a shift in driving away from ...
In automotive lighting, LEDs still lacks of horsepower, study says
Ultra-low-power SoC supports world's smallest Bluetooth location stickers
Imec and Renesas collaborate on ultra-low power short range radios
InterviewWireless control drives Atmel in Europe
Atmel's recent acquisition of Osmo Devices with a WiFi Direct design center in Cambridge and some key microcontroller launches has seen the company focus heavily on wireless control in Europe says Jörg ...
Filter WizardCheck out the Filter Wizard Series of articles by Filter Guru Kendall Castor-Perry which provide invaluable practical Analog Design guidelines.
Linear video channel
READER OFFERRead more
The development platform for i.MX 6Quad from element14 (built to the Freescale SABRE Lite design) is an evaluation platform featuring the powerful i.MX 6Q, a multimedia application processor with Quad ARM Cortex-A9 cores at 1.2 GHz from Freescale Semiconductor.
This month, Freescale and element14 are giving away five such platforms, worth £128.06 each, for EETimes Europe's readers to win. The platform helps evaluate the rich set of peripherals and includes a 10/100/Gb Ethernet port, SATA-II, HDMI v1.4, LVDS, parallel RGB interface, touch screen interface, analog headphone/microphone, micro TF and SD card interface, USB, serial port, JTAG, camera interface, and input keys for Android.
And the winners are...
In our previous reader offer, Pico Technology was giving away one of its recently launched PicoScope 3207B, a 2-channel USB 3.0 oscilloscope worth 1451 Euros. Lucky winner Mr L. Sanchez-Gonzalez from Spain should be receiving his PicoScope 3207B soon. Let's wish them some interesting findings with his projects.
December 15, 2011 | Texas instruments | 222901974
Unique Ser/Des technology supports encrypted video and audio content with full duplex bi-directional control channel over a single wire interface.