Not everything needs a web server… or does it? The Visible Energy Monostrip is one of the first power strips – more an outlet, really – with a built-in server that allows you to configure, control, and monitor the amount of juice going into various appliances.
The product isn’t visually arresting – the company also makes the UFO, which looks far cooler – but the functionality is what’s important. With the built-in server and Wi-Fi you can turn the light on and off remotely and schedule it to go on and off at certain times. You can also see how much you’re paying to power the socket.
The system is fairly simple right now. To set it up you plug in the outlet and look for a new Wi-Fi access point. Once you connect, you can assign the outlet to connect to the Internet via your in-home Wi-Fi. Then, using a mobile app, you can register the outlet and control it from your phone. I love being able to press one button from the dining room and watching the light go on in the living room.
I think the most important aspect is the remote management of power. By installing, say a few of these in the house you can turn off lights and appliances from almost anywhere, allowing for very specific control of your energy patterns. I’d love to see this nascent product grow – and I’m sure the functionality will be replicated in other products down the line.
Visible Energy is a Palo Alto company led by Marco Graziano, an expert in Internet appliances. He was amazed that when he plugged the device into his home TV setup he was drawing about $5 worth of electricity a month. His goal is to help others make good decisions about how to use and, in turn, conserve energy.