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02.09.12 - CalPlug Workshop Targets Set-top Boxes

Comcast Cable's Michael Cook discusses TV network and service trends.


The California Plug Load Research Center (CalPlug) attracted nearly 60 industry, government and academic experts to its inaugural workshop last week in the Calit2 Building.

The one-day workshop sought to build collaborations aimed at the improvement and adoption of energy-efficient set-top boxes.

These boxes, ubiquitous in today’s media-centric homes, serve as cable and satellite television receivers, network and Internet connections, video game players, and real-time connections to DVD and CD players, camcorders and music keyboards.

The wide range of experts attending the workshop included television service providers, set-top box- and microelectronics manufacturers, utilities, public agencies and academic researchers.

Panelists discussed current technology, markets, standards, test procedures and service trends. Technical innovations, barriers to implementation and alternative business models, including incentive programs, were also addressed.

Workshop participants toured the CalPlug facility on the fourth floor of the Calit2 Building, where students and industry representatives presented research demonstrations. Student demos included the Energy Star power-testing process and typical testing results; state-of-the-art energy management system technologies; a mobile-technology-based open-source system for energy management; a real-time display of heat loss from inefficient devices; and sleep/wake designs that utilize sensors and machine-learning technology.

A panel of experts shares insight into current technology, market, standards and test procedures.

Two CalPlug industry affiliates also demonstrated their technology. Futuredash’s Kevin Strong showed workshop attendees the company’s EnergyBuddy, a device that shows consumers their energy-savings performance based on several criteria, including money spent and kilowatts used.

DirectTV representative Steve Dulac  displayed seven generations of the company’s set-top boxes, each consuming less and less power, as well as a multi-room demonstration and a live power-consumption demo.

CalPlug technology director Arthur Zhang acquaints visitors with the facility.

Brad Meister, a mechanical engineer at the California Energy Commission, which is funding the CalPlug Center, hailed the workshop’s success.

“I received very positive feedback from everyone with whom I spoke,” he said.

CalPlug’s interim director, G.P. Li, also was pleased with the workshop’s accomplishments.

“This area of energy efficiency is very significant to the nation. These collaborations will enable important improvements in the next generation of this large segment of plug load devices.”

-- Anna Lynn Spitzer

Click here to view the speaker bios and presentations.