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It's all About Power and those Pesky Power Vampires

Pages: pp. 12–13

Applications: Truevert's Green Search Engine

In a demonstration of its semantic search technology, Orcatec has deployed a new search engine called Truevert. It works like any conventional search engine, but it returns results colored by its green view of the world. For instance, search for "clothing" and Truevert returns sites selling organic and eco-friendly clothing. Search for computing and several results on energy efficient computing come back. Alas, "pervasive computing" doesn't produce enough green results to be useful, but we imagine that topic-specific search engines will find greater applications in context-aware computing.

Devices: Smart Power Strips Defeat Power Vampires

We've all heard about so-called power vampires: the electric power consumed by devices when they're switched off or in stand-by mode. We've all heard the suggestion to turn off the power strip when we're done with these devices. But, let's get real…who is actually going to crawl behind the TV or behind the desk to get to the power strip's little toggle switch every time they want to use the TV or computer? Enter Belkin's remote controlled surge protector ( This surge protector includes two outlets that are always powered (for devices like routers, alarm clocks, and DVRs) and either six or eight outlets that are controlled by a remote control. As Kermit the Frog sings, "It's not easy being green." But with this smart surge protector's help, it'll soon be a whole lot easier!


Figure 1   Belkin's smart surge protector eliminates power vampires with the press of a button.

Honda's Ecological Drive Assist System

We all know Toyota Prius drivers who are extremely proud of the gas mileage displayed on their dashboard. Well, drivers have something even better to look forward to in the new 2009 Honda Insight Hybrid. The Insight's dashboard will boast a number of ambient-aware features to spur further improvements in driver habits. The speedometer changes color from green to blue when the car detects inefficient acceleration and braking, and the onboard computer tracks long-term driving habits, awarding leaf icons as drivers learn to drive more efficiently. One additional feature will only be available to customers in Japan through Honda's InterNavi service: users can upload their "eco scores" to the Internet, perhaps to compare their top mileage with other drivers?


Figure 2   The Honda Insight speedometer changes color when the car detects inefficient driving habits.

Solar-Powered, Automated Lawn Maintenance

Husqvarna has introduced a solar-powered, automatic, robotic lawn mower called the Automower Solar Hybrid ( Similar to the existing Automower, the hybrid model improves energy efficiency by mowing longer per charge during daylight hours. In fact, it can cut grass for up to 10 hours during the daytime and is suitable for areas up to 2,100 square meters. It rolls right over rough terrain and can handle up to a 35-percent incline. It mows in all weather (well, maybe not sleet or snow). Its antitheft alarm and PIN-code makes it useless to thieves—although it probably won't deter your local neighborhood prankster.

Weza Provides Green Energy

Freeplay's Weza ( provides power for emergency situations by repeatedly stepping on its foot treadle. With a five-minute workout, the Weza can provide enough energy to power a cell phone or handheld GPS unit for more than two hours. That same five-minute workout only provides enough energy to satisfy a couch potato for about three minutes and your typical road warrior for a mere two minutes of laptop usage. However, the device weighs in at more than 18 pounds, so it isn't something you're going to throw into your rolling luggage and take with you. But throw it in your car's trunk, and you can jump start your engine (literally) and power your cell phone in the time it would take you to walk half a mile at a comfortable pace. Not too bad. The Weza is available for roughly $300 via the Freeplay Web site.

Editors' Intro

In this issue, we cover an energy source that provides power for emergency situations and a car that helps to train drivers to drive efficiently. Speaking of power, we examine a power strip that defeats so-called "power vampires" and a solar-powered robotic lawnmower. Finally, we also present a green search engine that returns only links to green companies. Please continue to send pointers to upcoming products with exciting possibilities, your feedback on existing products, and your personal experiences along with them (your name will be included with your review). Email us at

Mark Corner and Maria Ebling

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