More and more I’m seeing all sorts of incredible ideas come to life in the form of Kickstarter projects. Kickstarter (for those that have never heard of it) is a site that lets creators of projects and ideas put the ideas out to the public for funding. If the project doesn’t meet its funding goal, the people that put in money are not charged and the process starts again. Not only is this a great idea, but it’s breeding ground for some truly amazing ideas and devices (I came across the Glif on Kickstarter – here’s my take). This time, I’ve found an amazing power control and monitoring device called Elphi. Let’s take a look.
The promise of a power control and monitoring device is somewhat dry, yes, but it has also been a technology that’s been rather elusive on the market. Many times I have wondered if my computer at home was on, if I might have left the stove running or have wanted to do various things with power plugs. In all of the technology we’re using, we still have little or no control over what drives them – the power.
This is where Elphi comes in. It’s a device that sits in the wall socket and then you plug something into it. From there, you connect and register the device on Elphi’s cloud servers. Once registered the mobile application lets you control and monitor that power port. It seems like such a simple idea, but it’s an idea that has a number of interesting possibilities.
In addition to those mentioned in this video, here are some ways I can see device being useful:
- Scenario #1: To get the best wireless coverage for your home or office, you place your router or access point in a hard to reach location. From time to time you have to restart it, but don’t have an easy way to pull the plug on the router. Elphi might let you power cycle the device.
- Scenario #2: You support a small business network and have a number of devices connected through the Elphi. If a support issue occurs, you can remotely check to see if the device is on an also recycle the power if needed.
- Scenario #3: A computer or server you need fails and you aren’t close. The failure is catastrophic and the computer is stuck at a Blue Screen in Windows. Instead of asking someone local (who may not be safe to touch a server) to power cycle the server, you can do that with Elphi.
- Scenario #4: The timer feature seems very promising. Controlling devices access to power at night or other non-peak times can conserve a great deal of energy.
- Scenario #5: You’re out of town and are watching your local (home) news coverage. The news mentions a serious storm or power outage in your area. You want to find out if your home might have been affected (and possibility need someone to check on things) – using Elphi’s monitoring you can see if all devices controlled are off, when they should be on.
- Scenario #6: You haven’t been to the cottage in some time, with Elphi you might turn on the heater (and other powered devices) before you depart so the cottage is ready when you get there.
I’m sure there are countless ways this can (and will be) used in the future as it matures. The idea of being able to assert control over power by simple and cost effective means may provide the kind of home automation that many look for, but don’t need in more expensive solutions. Here are the official features of the device as it stands now:
- Monitor loved ones (elderly or latchkey kids) by looking at the power use patterns on their devices.
- Instantly turn on and off any device from anywhere via smartphone – from your couch or from across the world
- Use the button as a manual override if a smart phone is not present
- Set timers just like you set your alarm clock on your phone – set your coffee machine to turn on every morning
- Location awareness – your phone can notify you or control devices based on your location (i.e. curling iron turns off when you leave the house)
- Measure the power usage of any device, and monitor it over time
- Plug two Elphi plugs into a single outlet with our space efficient design!
- Update Elphi plug firmware from your phone
- Synchronize state changes across multiple users’ phones
- Automatically turns off if device plugged into Elphi plug is drawing too much power
As it stands, the Elphi Kickstarter project is woefully underfunded in their goal to reach $90,000. If you’re looking for a project to get into and fund, this would be a great one to consider. Elphi’s funding window is only open until Friday June 29 at 12:28AM EDT so you’ll want to get on it right away.