Public power outlets that could bill you for electric usage? Sony's got them

Sony develops "authenticated power outlets"

At first, the following video from DigInfoNews seems like another Japanese technology video showing something cool. It's a Sony demonstration where power outlets have authentication built in (through wireless chips, but soon can be done through the power cable) - once a device is authenticated, power is allowed to go through the device.

But the end of the video has me concerned - Sony says the system could be used to authenticate individual users, which means in public places, at least, companies could start charging people for the use of power outlets. I suppose that seems fair, especially in public places like airports, hotels and other locations, where the most valuable space is the spot near the power outlet, and people are either recharging their laptops or phones while waiting for their flight or hotel room to open up. I've seen a bunch of Samsung recharging stations being set up in airports, and it's a nice perk. But if the airport started charging for the right to recharge? I'm not sure whether this would take off or not.

The video mentions that this could be used to charge people for the electricity required to recharge their electric vehicles; instead of gas stations, we could soon be seeing "electric stations", and I guess that would make sense. But there's something insidious about not being able to recharge my cell phone or laptop without coughing up some money.

Keith Shaw rounds up the best in geek video in his ITworld.tv blog. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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