I first met the folks at Green Plug at the Demo conference early last year. They had designed a universal charger that could work for all consumer electronics devices, eliminating the need to carry multiple chargers on the road or fill multiple power outlets with charging devices at home. The Green Plug charger offered energy savings''because it could detect when a device was done charging and shut down. The secret''it talks to devices to find out their voltage and power requirements. The obstacle to success''the devices have to talk back, that is, consumer electronics manufacturers have to build Green Plug''s software into the devices. ''Good luck with that,'' I thought, even though I saw it as a great idea and wished them success.
Well, Green Plug is indeed having some luck with that. Last week the company announced that it has convinced 17 wireless operators and mobile phone handset makers, under the auspices of the worldwide GSM Association, to build Green Plug compatibility into their devices by 2012. That means chargers will be interchangeable among manufacturers and work with future handsets. Which means, for me, could mean leaving three chargers at home when packing my family up for our next vacation.