Currant, a startup devoted to creating smart products that reduce energy consumption, recently announced the Currant Smart Outlet — the first smart outlet on the market powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
The outlet and its connected app enable businesses to view a breakdown of their power usage and receive personalized, easy-to-implement suggestions for taking control of their energy bills.
Americans spend approximately $19 billion every year, or about a quarter of the household electricity consumed in the US, on devices that are not actively being used. Currant addresses this problem by leveraging AI to help people discover the biggest energy offenders in their homes so that they can cut excess electricity usage without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
“Millions of people grossly underestimate the effect plugged-in but inactive devices have on their power bills,” said Hasty Granbery, founder and CEO of Currant. “Currant tackles this issue by analyzing usage patterns and suggesting simple, customized changes to automatically power off unnecessary devices and cut energy consumption.”
The Currant Smart Outlet incorporates the best features of both smart outlets and energy monitors and introduces insights from machine learning. Currant’s technology also includes:
- Real-time electricity usage and intuitive graphs that display energy consumption and cost by hour, day, month or year.
- Remote monitoring and control, so customers can ensure that devices and appliances are off whether they’re down the street or across the country.
- Connections with Amazon Alexa and Google Home to enable voice control of outlets and devices.
- Advanced energy monitoring with each outlet calibrated using high-precision test equipment.
- The highest safety ratings of any smart outlet.
Customers plug in the Currant Smart Outlet and connect to the app, available for iPhone and Android. The app automatically detects the outlet and displays real-time information on energy usage. Customers can opt to set outlet-specific rules right away to turn the power on and off according to their preference and schedules.
Alternatively, they can use Currant as a normal outlet for a week, and it will deliver tailored suggestions based on the types of device utilized, the amount of energy consumed, and the individual’s unique usage patterns.
Designed by Bould Design, the same team that created the Nest thermostat, the Currant Smart Outlet features a sleek, reflective surface, two independently-controlled outlets, and a plate that can switch directions to keep cords organized and out of the way.
Protecting the Outlets
Businesses around the country have installed surge protection devices to guard against nearby lightning strikes and power line surges. Such protective measures help to prevent damage to sensitive electronics. Inventor of the EMPStorm, Dr. Arthur Bradley, a NASA engineer, claims that while valuable, such devices do little to protect against two unique threats: the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and the solar coronal mass ejection (CME).
An EMP is a powerful electromagnetic disturbance that results when a nuclear warhead is detonated in the atmosphere. In 2001, the government appointed the “EMP Commission” to study the threat and its possible effects on our nation’s infrastructures. They concluded that an EMP “has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures that support the fabric of US society.”
Such an attack would induce enormous energy pulses on the electrical grid, resulting in widespread damage to electronics.
A similar disturbance could result from a solar event, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME). Dr. Bradley explains that a CME is a plasma of charged particles that washes over the earth and causes tremendous currents to flow in long conductors. Such ejections are common and well documented, with the sun producing one about every 3-5 days. Incredibly powerful solar storms strike the Earth once every 100-200 years, with the last one occurring in 1859. That storm, known as the “Carrington Event,” was so powerful that it resulted in telegraph stations catching fire.
“An EMP or large CME would cause extensive damage not only to the electrical grid, but also to electronics connected to it,” says Dr. Bradley.
He goes on to explain that the long-duration energy pulse would result in the immediate destruction of existing surge protection devices. To address these grave threats, he announced the development of a new whole-house surge protection device, the “EMPStorm,” which is specifically designed to guard against the conducted pulses resulting from an EMP or solar storm.