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Sony is building a new kind of power outlet that raises a not entirely pleasant prospect—in the future, plugging a phone into a public wall socket might require authentication and take a chunk out of your bank account. But the technology will have many important uses, Sony says, from managing payments for recharging electrical vehicles to avoiding blackouts by intelligently regulating the use of power. Announced by Sony last month, and demonstrated today in a video posted by Tokyo news site DigInfo TV, Sony's authentication outlet manages electricity use on a per-user and per-device basis with NFC (near field communication) and RFID (radio-frequency identification) tools. The technology may be years away from commercial release, but a prototype demonstration shows a handheld dryer being plugged into an outlet that has the ability to authenticate devices. The dryer doesn't need to be modified because it attaches to the outlet through a plug containing an NFC chip. "The authenticated equipment can be managed via the cloud, and its power supply can also be controlled," DigInfo notes. "So for example, if demand is about to exceed supply, blackouts can be avoided by switching off non-vital devices, while keeping other more essential devices such as healthcare equipment and refrigerators on."
Further applications would give consumers and businesses improved ability to monitor and analyze power consumption, and prevent "electricity theft." "'Electricity theft' could be avoided if electrical outlets located in the common area of an apartment building were replaced by the Authentication Outlet, as this outlet would only supply power to authenticated devices," Sony said.
"The authenticated equipment can be managed via the cloud, and its power supply can also be controlled,"