RFID-controlled power strip only turns on when you're nearby

Birkeland Current Pinch
© Birkeland Current

Whether it's from convenience, habit, or forgetfulness, we tend to leave our devices plugged in and on (or on standby) throughout the course of the day, which can account for a significant amount of wasted power over the long run.

Sure, we could learn to power off and unplug the devices we're not using (or turn off the power strips they're connected to) every time we walk away from them, but that would require, well, some work.

But there's a new device that aims to automate the process using smart proximity sensing, which could possibly cut your electricity use by up to 35%.

The Pinch, from Birkeland Current, is an active RFID-controlled device that promises to make it easy to conserve energy at home or the office, without any other effort, and is currently in a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.

The device comes in two versions, a power strip or a light switch, which are controlled by an RFID tag that the user carries with them. When the key fob is within range, the devices power up automatically, and when the user (and the key fob) leaves the area, the devices get turned off until the next time the tag is in the vicinity.

"The patent pending proximity tag is the key to it all. By keeping the small tag with you wherever you go, the Birkeland Current Pinch will know when to turn devices on and when to turn them off. Privacy is not an issue - the tag only tells the Pinch where you are whenever you are actually within range of the Pinch. Shared devices are not an issue - the Pinch can be programmed for multiple user tags where any authorized tag will let power flow to your device."

An override switch on the Pinch lets users turn everything on manually (if the fob isn't in the room), a switch on the fob itself allows users to turn off the Pinch while they're still in the room, and individual devices plugged into the Pinch can still be switched off with their own power button.

In addition to the basic Pinch, a "Reader" USB device can gather data on energy use and metrics for each device plugged into a Pinch, and can be used to customize or schedule their programming, or to control them remotely. The data collected by the reader can display energy trends and costs, both historically and in real-time, allowing for further optimization of the user's electricity use.

Other solutions for cutting energy waste from phantom power and standby options offer timed controllers, or smart outlets that can be controlled via smartphone, but the Pinch promises to be a plug'n'play solution to control power consumption simply and seamlessly. Just don't lose the key fob.

Check out the project at Kickstarter: The Pinch

RFID-controlled power strip only turns on when you're nearby
When you walk away from your desk, the Current Pinch power strip turns off the electricity to your devices automatically, and then switches it back on when you return.

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