Universal Power Adapter Concept Offers Alternative to Wall Warts


One of the greatest inventions to come to the PC is that of the Universal Serial Bus (USB). It doesn't matter whether you're in the market for a spiffy new keyboard or a digital camera, because nearly every gadget today plugs into any of the many USB ports found on any modern computer. Why can't all digital devices be as easy to work with?

If Doug Palmer's vision ever comes to fruition, they will be. Palmer, an engineer at the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), wants to eradicate wall warts. No, he's not referring to unsightly growths on your home's walls, but the many different external power adapters for all of your gizmos and gadgets.

Because different devices require different amounts of voltages, wall warts have become a necessary evil, but also a costly one. It's bad enough having to deal with bulky adapters, but according to a 2001 speech Palmer delivered to the Department of Energy employees, wall warts consume an estimated 4 percent of all the electricity used in the average U.S. home. On a national scale that equates to about 52 billion kilowatt hours - yikes!

Looking to change all that, Palmer has begun the initial states of designing a prototype for what he calls a Universal Power Adapter (UPA). Instead of requiring different sized adapters for various devices, UPA would replace them all with a single 'smart' power supply that would let electronic gadgets 'request' the amount of voltage it needs, and the adapter would adjust to comply. According to Palmer, even hybrid cars could be plugged into the UPA - try doing that with your USB port!

Physorg.com has the full story , including potential downsides, and its one any power user will be interested in reading. Give it a glance and tell us what you think below.

Image Credit: Flickr Alan D

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