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Researchers develop ‘smart power outlet’ that identifies appliances that can burn your house

Researchers from MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering developed a ‘smart power outlet’ that can prevent houses from burning by identifying appliances with dangerous electrical arcs.

As reported by, the smart power outlet analyzes appliances’ power draw and tells which of those has harmless electrical arcs and which has dangerous ones.

Research scientist Joshua Siegel said: “We create fingerprints of current data, and we’re labeling them as good or bad, or what individual device they are.”

“There are the good fingerprints, and then the fingerprints of the things that burn your house down. Our job in the near-term is to figure out what’s going to burn down your house and what won’t, and in the long-term, figure out exactly what’s plugged in where.”

What’s different with the researchers’ smart power outlet is that it has a Raspberry Pi at the heart of the intelligent outlet which runs the machine learning algorithm.

An inductive power clamp meanwhile secures to an outlet’s wire and monitors the current magnetic field from the accompanying one with a USB sound card that reads the current data.

The neural network power signature data were fed from four different devices such as a fan, an iMac, a stovetop burner, and an air purifier and was later able to identify which of those has dangerous electrical arcs with 99.95 percent accuracy and differentiated the four devices with 95.61 percent accuracy after sufficient training.

Siegel further said that upcoming versions of the smart power outlet could feature networking capabilities that allow wireless exchange of data, electrical usage report, and learning power usage patterns.

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