Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

To save energy, popping socket unplugs plugs

Ignore the 10-minute warning and you'll find that your toaster, computer, or smartphone has been unceremoniously evicted from its wall socket, by the socket itself.

Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Edward Moyer is a senior editor at CNET and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. ¶ For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
Expertise Wordsmithery. Credentials
  • Ed was a member of the CNET crew that won a National Magazine Award from the American Society of Magazine Editors for general excellence online. He's also edited pieces that've nabbed prizes from the Society of Professional Journalists and others.
Edward Moyer
2 min read
Pop goes the wall socket. Ignore the red 10-minute warning light, and your toasting days are over (at least temporarily). Red Dot Web site

Here's an intriguing design concept that's been stirring the currents of the blogosphere lately: an electrical wall socket that unplugs plugs as a way of saving power.

That's right--if your toaster sits idle for too long, the "PumPing Tap" lets you know it's time to toast or get out of the slot. It detects the drop in current and fires a spring-loaded mechanism that in turn fires the toaster's plug across the kitchen (or at least onto the counter--and hopefully not into the butter dish).

You do get a heads-up. When a plugged-in device is switched off and is no longer being used, a ring of bluish light around the socket turns to red, giving you a 10-minute warning. When time's up, pop goes the plug.

The device is, of course, meant to conserve energy (and money) that's wasted when gadgets like computers and TVs are in standby mode.

The PumPing Tap won a 2011 Red Dot Award for design concept (the Red Dots are international product- and communication-design prizes handed out each year by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany).

And it is an interesting idea, though we're not convinced it strikes exactly the right cord (er, chord).

One can imagine various undesired scenarios popping up in regard to flying and falling plugs (see "butter dish" above). And there's also the question of plugs that are located in hard-to-reach places.

Perhaps the better idea would be to create a socket that simply switches itself off, as some power strips apparently do (though certain issues would no doubt need to be addressed).

But who knows? If a product like the "PumPing Tap" were to be developed and marketed, it might capture the public's imagination in unforeseen ways and become a nice little poster-gadget for energy awareness.

Extreme plug-popping competitions, anyone?

(Via Gizmag)