Socket Assembly With Standby Sockets

Socket Assembly With Standby Sockets
US 20090091192A1
(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2009/0091192 A1
Robertson et al.
(54)
(43) Pub. Date:
SOCKET ASSEMBLY WITH STANDBY
SOCKETS
(76) Inventors:
Publication Classi?cation
(51)
Int. Cl.
Peter S. Robertson, Nottingham
HoIH 83/00
(GB) Ian R, Brownes Nottingham
U-S. Cl. ...................................................... ..
(57)
Correspondence Address:
A
2&6NION’ 5'0
(21)
Apr. 9, 2009
(200601)
ABSTRACT
d.
.
.
.
.
poWer 1str1but1on apparatus for use W1th a master device
and suite of peripheral devices, comprising a master electrical
MILWAUKEE WI 53226 (Us)
outlet and at least one standby electrical outlet, both connect
’
able to a common electrical poWer supply. The apparatus
Appl NO _
'
"
11/922 733
further comprising sensing means for detecting changes in
’
the operating state of master device and a controller operable
to interrupt poWer to the at least one standby electrical outlet
When the sensing means detects a prescribed change in oper
ating state of the master device. In Which, following an inter
(22)
PCT F 11 e d:
Jun 21, 2006
(86)
PCT NO;
PCTlGB2006I002259
ruption of poWer, the controller automatically restores poWer
§ 371 (OX1),
(2)’ (4) Date:
(30)
to'the at least one ‘standby electrical'outlet after a predeter
Dec_ 21, 2007
Foreign Application Priority Data
Jun. 21, 2005
(GB) ................................. .. 05126180
mined interval of time, thereby prov1d1ng at least a standby
poWer to any peripheral device connected to the standby
outlet When the master device is off or on standby. In this Way,
peripheral devices may then enter standby states of operation,
if equipped to do so.
Patent Application Publication
Apr. 9, 2009 Sheet 1 0f 6
US 2009/0091192 A1
ig.
1
Patent Application Publication
Apr. 9, 2009 Sheet 2 0f 6
SUB
MASTER STANDBY SLAVE
Fig. 2b
US 2009/0091192 A1
Patent Application Publication
Apr. 9, 2009 Sheet 3 0f 6
30 12b
US 2009/0091192 A1
i‘ 'f" F6
00 Q0
33
3K:
7
Fig. 3
Patent Application Publication
Apr. 9, 2009 Sheet 4 0f 6
US 2009/0091192 A1
Patent Application Publication
Apr. 9, 2009 Sheet 5 0f 6
US 2009/0091192 A1
Patent Application Publication
Apr. 9, 2009 Sheet 6 0f 6
US 2009/0091192 A1
Apr. 9, 2009
US 2009/0091192 A1
SOCKET ASSEMBLY WITH STANDBY
SOCKETS
[0001] The present invention relates to socket assemblies
and their use in the supply of electrical poWer to suites of
master and peripheral devices.
[0002] In modern homes and o?ices, suites of electrical
devices have become commonplace for both recreational and
Work purposes. Such suites of devices typically include at
least one master device and a plurality of peripheral devices
coupled to one or more of the master devices for communi
cation therebetWeen. Examples of such devices include those
for home entertainment, such as televisions, digital versatile
disc (DVD) players, video-cassette recorders (VCRs), set-top
boxes and personal video recorders (PVRs) etc; and those
relating to home computing, such as personal computers
(PCs), printers, modems and scanners etc.
[0003] Each device in a suite typically requires its oWn
connection to a mains electrical poWer supply. Consequently,
fall in poWer draWn from a master outlet, and then automati
cally restore poWer to the standby outlet after a predetermined
interval of time.
[0008] Some or all of the above objects are provided by
embodiments of the present. invention as described hereinaf
ter.
[0009] According to one aspect of the present invention
there is provided a poWer distribution apparatus comprising:
[0010] a master electrical outlet and at least one standby
electrical outlet, both connectable to a common electri
cal poWer supply;
[0011] sensing means for detecting changes in the oper
ating state of a master device; and
[0012] a controller for interrupting poWer to the at least
one standby electrical outlet in response to the sensing
means detecting a prescribed change in operating state
of the master device;
[0013] Wherein folloWing an interruption of poWer, the
controller automatically restores poWer to the at least
one standby electrical outlet after a predetermined inter
val of time.
it is common for such a suite of devices to be connected to the
[0014]
mains via a conventional multi-Way electrical socket bank,
there is provided a method of poWer distribution comprising
the steps of:
[0015] supplying electrical poWer to a master electrical
outlet and at least one standby electrical outlet, both
typically having 2-, 4-, 6- or 8- (or more) outlets. While these
socket banks can overcome the dif?culty of providing su?i
cient poWer connections for the suite of devices, they do not
provide any control over the provision of poWer to the periph
eral devices in response to changes in the operating state of
the master device.
[0004] This problem has been addressed by the socket
assemblies of co-pending application GB2386004 and
granted patent GB2398441, both in the name of Peter Rob
ertson. Using these assemblies, peripheral devices can be
poWered doWn (i.e. turned off) When a change in operating
state of the master device is sensed, by monitoring the poWer
draWn through a master electrical outlet of the socket assem
bly, thereby alloWing the Whole suite of devices to be turned
off When the master device is turned off, or placed into a
standby state.
[0005] HoWever, in some suites of devices, poWering doWn
each of the peripheral devices can be disadvantageous, as
certain devices require at least a loW level of poWer to be
maintained during periods of inactivity. In particular, some
set-top boxes are prone to automatic “.locking” if they are
Without poWer for an extended period of time, and other
According to another aspect of the present invention
connected to a common electrical poWer supply;
[0016]
detecting, via a sensing means, changes in the
operating state of a master device;
[0017] interrupting the poWer to the at least one standby
electrical outlet, via a controller, When the sensing
means detects a prescribed change in operating state of
the master device;
[0018] Wherein folloWing an interruption of poWer, the
controller automatically restores poWer to the at least
one standby electrical outlet after a predetermined inter
val of time.
[0019] Embodiments of the present invention Will noW be
described by Way of example and With reference to the
accompanying draWings in Which:
[0020]
FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of a poWer
distribution apparatus according to the present invention;
[0021] FIG. 2a is a schematic representation of part of the
poWer distribution apparatus according to FIG. 1;
[0022]
FIG. 2b shoWs a user input means according to the
devices Which have volatile storage (e. g. VCRs) can typically
poWer distribution apparatus of FIG. 2a;
lose user de?ned settings and/ or programmed instructions if
they are turned off altogether. The upshot of this can be that
[0023] FIG. 3 shoWs an arrangement of a suite of devices
receiving poWer from a poWer distribution apparatus accord
such peripheral devices are unable to return to a subsequent
ing to the present invention.
[0024] FIGS. 4(a)-(c) are perspective vieWs of an altema
tive arrangement of the poWer distribution apparatus of the
present invention.
[0025] FIGS. 5(a)-(c) are perspective vieWs of another
alternative arrangement of the poWer distribution apparatus.
[0026] FIGS. 6(a)-(c) are perspective vieWs of another
alternative arrangement of the poWer distribution apparatus.
operating state, When poWer is again restored, as the device
may be locked or else aWaits start-up instructions from a user
(e.g. clock settings etc.), thereby effectively disabling the
device. The device may then need to be re-set by the user or a
quali?ed technician, Which may possibly incur inconve
nience and/ or cost for the user.
[0006] It is an object of the present invention to provide a
poWer distribution apparatus Which is operable to control the
provision of poWer to peripheral devices in response to a
change in operating state of an associated master device,
[0027]
With reference to FIG. 1, there is shoWn a poWer
distribution apparatus according to a particularly preferred
embodiment of the present invention, comprising a trailing
While maintaining one or more of the peripheral devices in a
socket bank 1, including at least one master electrical outlet 2
standby state When the master device is off.
[0007] It is a further object of the present invention to
provide a poWer distribution apparatus Which is operable to
interrupt poWer to a standby outlet in response to a detected
and a plurality of secondary electrical outlets, generally
denoted by 9. The master electrical outlet 2 is adapted to
receive a master device, preferably by Way of a conventional
mains plug, and is operable to supply poWer to the master
Apr. 9, 2009
US 2009/0091192 A1
device Whenever the socket bank 1 is connected to a power
supply. The secondary electrical outlets 9 are each adapted to
receive a peripheral device Which is associated With the mas
ter device, again by Way of a conventional mains plug.
[0028] In accordance With the present invention, at least
number of standard interfaces and bus connectors from Which
a signal indicative of the current operating state of the PC may
be derived. The electrical signal may therefore be an output
voltage Which is taken from one or more of the serial port,
one of the secondary electrical outlets 9 is a standby electrical
parallel port, FireWire port, ISA bus, PCI bus and universal
serial bus (U SB), With the sensing means being directly con
outlet 3, While one or more of the other outlets may be slave
nected to the interface/bus by a hard Wire connection.
electrical outlets 7.
[0038]
[0029]
It is to be appreciated that, although FIG. 1 shoWs
form of an electromagnetic Wave corresponding to one of the
the socket bank 1 as having tWo standby electrical outlets 3
and three slave electrical outlets 7, there may be any number
of both kinds of outlets, provided there is at least one standby
electrical outlet 3 and at least one master electrical outlet 2,
standard Wireless protocols, such as WiFi and Bluetooth. In
this arrangement, the sensing means could include a receiver
Which monitors Wireless signals from the master device, so as
to determine the current operating state of that device. By Way
of example, the master device could be a laptop or other
both connectable to a common electrical poWer supply. In
particular, a socket bank 1 having no slave electrical outlets 7
is also in accordance With the poWer distribution apparatus of
the present invention.
[0030] Moreover, as described later, some of the secondary
electrical outlets 9 may be con?gured to act as either a
standby electrical outlet 3 or slave electrical outlet 7, depend
ing on the particular use of the socket bank 1 and desired
application.
[0031] The socket bank 1 is preferably connected to a mains
electrical poWer supply by a ?exible mains lead 5, Which
terminates at its distal end With a conventional mains plug 6 of
a type suitable for use With electrical mains sockets.
[0032] It is to be appreciated that the socket bank 1 may be
adapted to supply electrical poWer derived from any suitable
poWer supply to the master electrical outlet 2, the slave elec
trical outlets 3 and the standby electrical outlets 7. Suitable
poWer supplies include a battery, a generator or, most prefer
ably, the mains.
[0033] Referring again to FIG. 1, in preferred embodi
ments, the region generally designated by 4 houses an internal
Alternatively, the electrical signal may be in the
portable computing device, having a USB dongle for Wireless
netWorking, and in Which the sensing means monitors the
signals from the dongle to determine Whether the laptop has
undergone a change in operating state.
[0039] In other embodiments, the socket assembly could be
con?gured to use both poWer sensing and electrical signal
monitoring, either independently or in combination, in order
to determine changes in the operating state of the master
device.
[0040] It is to be appreciated that any suitable means may
be used to detect changes in the operating state of a master
device, Whether this be by direct interaction With the master
device or by some other sensing technique. For example, in
the case of the master device being a television or visual
display unit (VDU), the radio frequency (“White”) noise and/
or magnetic ?eld of the device could be remotely monitored
by suitable sensors Within the socket assembly.
[0041] The present controller has been modi?ed to include
a timing circuit, Which is operable to be tripped, or triggered,
by the interruption of electrical poWer to one or more of the
standby electrical outlets 3, in response to the sensing means
detecting a prescribed change in operating state of the master
controller Which is operable to control the amount of poWer
available to the secondary electrical outlets 9 based on the
operating state of a master device (eg television etc.) con
nected to the master electrical outlet 2.
[0034] A controller suitable for use With the present poWer
cally corresponds to the situation When a user decides to turn
distribution apparatus is described in granted patent
the master device “off ’ or else place the master device into a
GB2398441 in the name of Peter Robertson, modi?ed in
“standby” state, from a state in Which the master device is
“on”.
accordance With the prescribed improvements of the present
invention.
[0035] The controller is coupled to a sensing means (not
shoWn), Which is operable to detect changes in the operating
state of the master device. In preferred embodiments, the
sensing means is adapted to detect the changes in operating
state of the master device by sensing poWer draWn from the
device connected to the master electrical outlet 2. The “pre
scribed change in operating state” of the master device typi
[0042] Herein, When the master device is “off” it is assumed
that the device is no longer draWing poWer from the master
electrical outlet 2, or else is draWing poWer at a negligibly loW
level. Whereas, When the master device is in a “standby” state,
the device is consuming poWer at a reduced level, and is
essentially in a sleeping state, aWaiting instructions from a
master electrical outlet 2, as described in detail in the afore
user so as to aWaken and perform a desired task (eg a tele
mentioned granted GB patent. The sensing means preferably
vision or PC When in a standby state). An “on” state is taken
to be When the master device is operating or functioning at a
poWer level Which is at, or close to, its maximum or normal
measures a resulting voltage developed across a load (of
knoWn resistance) by the current draWn through the master
electrical outlet 2 by the master device.
[0036] It is to be appreciated that, any suitable method of
estimating the poWer draWn from the master electrical outlet
2 may be used, in accordance With the apparatus of the present
invention, including, but not limited to, inductive and thermal
techniques.
[0037] In other preferred embodiments, the sensing means
may alternatively be adapted to detect changes in an electrical
signal. derived from the master device, the changes in the
poWer consumption, and is therefore signi?cantly higher than
both the “off ’ and “standby” state poWer levels.
[0043] Typically the poWer level of a standby state of a
master device is of the order of several Watts (W), but varies
depending on the poWer consumption characteristics of the
particular master device, and may be up to several tens of
Watts.
[0044] The timing circuit may any suitable circuit arrange
ment or integrated circuit that is capable of performing an
signal corresponding to changes in the operating state of the
incremental count (preferably in seconds or a suitable.
master device. For example, in a home computing suite, the
master device Will typically be the PC itself Which provides a
equivalent) up to a pre-set total, corresponding to a predeter
mined interval of time. Preferably, the timing circuit forms
Apr. 9, 2009
US 2009/0091192 A1
part of the controller circuitry (e.g. sharing the same circuit
board), or alternatively, may be in the form of a separate
module Which is coupled to the controller circuitry Within
region 4 of socket bank 1.
gives rise to a period of Waiting corresponding to the prede
termined interval of time. Preferably, the predetermined inter
val of time is greater than about 1 second, and is most pref
erably in the range of about 1 second to about 10 seconds.
embodiments, When the sensing means detects a fall in poWer
draWn from the master electrical outlet 2, from an “on” state
[0051] The predetermined interval of time is preferably
factory set in the timing circuit during fabrication of the
poWer distribution apparatus. HoWever, in alternative
to an “off ’ or “standby” state, the controller acts to interrupt
embodiments, the apparatus may include a selector sWitch
[0045]
In accordance With the particularly preferred
poWer to the one or more standby electrical outlets 3, thereby
(e.g. slide sWitch, rotary sWitch etc.) disposed on the casing of
causing any peripheral devices connected thereto to be poW
ered. doWn alongside the master device. Correspondingly,
the socket bank 1, Will alloWs a user to de?ne the predeter
mined interval of time, by selecting one of several possible
any slave electrical outlets 7 in the socket bank 1 are isolated
durations (eg 1, 10, 30, 100 seconds etc.).
from the poWer supply by the controller, so that any peripheral
[0052]
devices connected to them are also poWered doWn alongside
the master device and peripheral devices of the standby elec
trical outlets.
cal outlets 3 by preferably re-connecting the live rail of each
outlet 3 to the mains supply, using a suitable sWitching device,
preferably a relay.
[0053] It is to be appreciated that in alternative embodi
[0046]
When the interruption of poWer to the one or more
standby electrical outlets 3 occurs, the timing circuit prefer
ably receives a start pulse (or any other suitable signal) from
the controller, Which thereby triggers the incremental count.
The controller restores poWer to the standby electri
ments, the controller could be adapted to limit the current to
one or more of the standby electrical outlets 3 upon restora
tion of poWer to the outlets, to thereby limit the poWer avail
The timing circuit continues to increase the count until a total
able to the peripheral devices connected thereto, depending
count is attained Which corresponds to the predetermined
on the particular application and suite of devices.
[0054] It is to be appreciated that, in accordance With the
interval of time, Whereupon the controller automatically
restores poWer to the one or more standby electrical outlets 3.
present invention, none of the slave electrical outlets 7 are
[0047]
provided With restored poWer after the predetermined interval
of time. These outlets remain isolated from the poWer supply,
In accordance With the preferred embodiments, the
controller is adapted to restore poWer to each of the standby
electrical outlets 3 by re-connecting the outlets to the mains
until Which time the master device is subsequently returned to
supply, thereby providing poWer to the peripheral devices
an “on” state. Thereafter, poWer is made available to the
connected thereto. In this Way a restored poWer is made
available to the peripheral devices after only a temporary
peripheral devices connected to the slave electrical outlets 7,
alloWing the peripheral devices to be poWered up once more.
[0055] The operation of the slave electrical outlets 7 is
similar to that described in the granted patent GB2398441.
interruption of poWer, Which therefore enables the peripheral
devices to enter a respective standby state of operation if
equipped to do so. As a result, the peripheral devices con
nected to the standby electrical outlets 3 are only Without
mined interval of time.
[0056] When the master device is turned on again, the con
troller acts to recon?gure the connections betWeen the live
rail of the standby electrical outlets 3 and the mains supply, so
that the outlets 3 are able to provide poWer to the peripheral
[0048] During the poWer interruption, the peripheral
devices connected thereto, so that they can be turned on.
mains poWer for a period substantially equal to the predeter
devices connected to the standby electrical outlets 3, Will
(Where ?tted) revert to internal (back-up) batteries or capaci
tive discharge circuits, in order to maintain poWer to volatile
storage and other poWer dependent circuits, e.g. clock and
user de?ned settings. Of course, such back-up measures only
have a ?nite period of operation, and therefore should poWer
not be restored to the peripheral devices before the batteries
are drained for instance, loss of settings and/or information
[0057]
In accordance With the present invention, at least
one of the secondary electrical outlets 9 is a standby electrical
outlet 3, hoWever in preferred embodiments, at least one of
the other secondary outlets 9 may be con?gured by a user to
be either a standby electrical 3 or a slave electrical outlet 7.
Therefore, as shoWn in FIG. 2a, one or more of the secondary
outlets 9 may have an associated user input means 8, Which
alloWs a user to con?gure the mode of the outlet, depending
Will likely result.
[0049] Hence, the predetermined interval of time is prefer
on the desired application and particular poWer requirements
of the peripheral devices. In the example of FIG. 2a, one of the
ably selected to be signi?cantly shorter than the average back
up battery lifetime of the peripheral devices, so that any
programmed settings or instructions held in volatile storage
slave outlets 7 has been con?gured to act as a standby elec
trical outlet by using the user input means 8 to select the
etc. are not lost When poWer is interrupted to the standby
Will operate as a standby electrical outlet, in accordance With
electrical outlets 3 (folloWing the master device being turned
off or poWered doWn). In particular, in the case of set-top
the foregoing embodiments of the present invention.
boxes, the automatic restoration of poWer provided by the
present apparatus, prevents these devices from “locking-up”
due to prolonged interruptions of poWerithereby avoiding
standby setting 21, as shoWn in FIG. 2b. Thereafter, the outlet
[0058] Preferably, the user input means 8 is a slide sWitch
having at least tWo distinct positions, each corresponding to a
particular mode 21-23. Each user input means 8 is coupled to
the controller, Which monitors the settings of the user input
signi?cant inconvenience, and possible cost, to the user.
[0050] In preferred embodiments, the timing circuit com
mences counting substantially after the moment the poWer is
means 8 to determine the hoW each outlet is to be controlled
during use. In alternative embodiments, the user input means
interrupted to the one or more standby electrical outlets 3.
repeated presses of the sWitch cycle through the available
Alternatively, the timing circuit may be con?gured to be
triggered substantially at the instant the sensing means
modes. Of course, any suitable selection device or sWitch may
detects the fall in poWer draWn from the master electrical
outlet 2 by the master device. In either case, the timing circuit
8 may be a rotary sWitch, or push button sWitch, in Which
be used, provided a number of distinct positions may be
selected, corresponding to the modes of operation of the
outlet.
Apr. 9, 2009
US 2009/0091192 A1
[0059]
In preferred embodiments, the user input means 8
may also alloW an outlet to be con?gured as a sub-master
electrical outlet, such that the slide sWitch, for instance, is set
in the sub-master setting 23. In this Way, the poWer distribu
tion apparatus is able to provide a further master electrical
outlet having the properties as discussed in the foregoing
embodiments, Which may be useful When larger arrange
ments of suites of devices are to be used With the socket bank
[0066] At this time, the timing circuit is activated and com
mences the count, Whereupon after expiry of the predeter
mined interval of time, poWer is automatically restored to the
standby outlets 3a, 3b by the controller. The provision of
poWer to the standby outlets 3a, 3b alloWs the set-top box 32
and PVR 33 to receive su?icient poWer to thereby enter a
standby state of operation, if they are equipped to do so. In this
Way, the peripheral devices 32, 33 are then able to implement
1 of the present invention.
[0060] The sub-master electrical outlet may be operated
independently of the permanent master electrical outlet 2, or
else can be adapted to be dependent on the operation of the
master device connected to the permanent outlet 2.
[0061] It is to be understood that, the user input means 8
[0067] Advantageously, the restoration of poWer to the
standby outlets 3a, 3b prevents the internal batteries of the
peripheral devices 32, 33 from being drained While the master
may include less, or more, than three selectable modes
device is “off ’, and therefore prevents any loss of user de?ned
subsequent automatic timer recordings and other previously
set instructions, by emerging from their respective standby
states.
depending on the particular requirements and application of
settings or instructions, and possible locking-up of the
the socket bank 1. A further possible mode may also be a
devices.
“bypass” mode (not shoWn), Which essentially con?gures an
outlet to act independently of all the other outlets, such that it
is able to provide poWer at all times While poWer is maintained
to the socket bank 1. This particular mode Would be useful
Where any interruption in poWer is not desirable, such as for
providing poWer to netWork routers and communications
devices eg modems.
[0062] In preferred embodiments, the user input means 8
may also comprise some form of visual noti?cation means,
preferably light emitting diode (LED) based, Which indicates
to a user the selected mode of the outlet. The visual noti?ca
tion means may comprise several differently coloured LEDs
or else a single multi-colour LED, in Which each one of the
colours corresponds to a particular mode of operation of the
outlet.
[0063]
It is to be appreciated hoWever, that any suitable
form of visual noti?cation means may be used to indicate the
mode of operation.
[0064] By Way of example, the poWer distribution appara
tus of the present invention is shoWn in schematic represen
tation along With a suite of domestic home entertainment
devices in FIG. 3. In this arrangement, tWo of the secondary
electrical outlets 9 are standby electrical outlets 3a, 3b (one of
which 311 is permanent and the other 3b may be a con?gurable
outlet), and three are slave electrical outlets 7a, 7b, 70 (one or
more of Which may be con?gurable outlets). A television 31
is connected to the master electrical outlet 2 of the socket
bank 1, and is coupled to a number of peripheral devices,
including a set-top box 32 (e. g. a digital terrestrial, satellite or
cable television receiver), a PVR 33, DVD player 34, an audio
ampli?er 35 and external speakers 37. Finally, a games con
[0068] Advantageously, the poWer distribution apparatus
of the present invention may therefore be used to control a
suite of peripheral devices associated With a master device (as
shoWn in FIG. 3), some of Which must receive at least a
standby poWer even When the master device is off or in a
standby state.
[0069] Although the poWer distribution apparatus of the
present invention has been described in relation to a trailing
socket bank 1, it is to be appreciated that the physical arrange
ment of the master, standby and slave electrical outlets can be
con?gured into any suitable 3-dimensional geometrical shape
and structure. Therefore, according to the present invention,
there are shoWn in FIGS. 4-6, example arrangements in Which
the poWer distribution apparatus has been con?gured into a
substantially ‘cubic’ socket assembly, thereby offering con
siderable space saving advantages and convenience of use.
[0070] It is to be understood that these examples are not
limiting, and therefore each serves as an illustration of one
possible cubic con?guration that may be adopted by the
poWer distribution apparatus of the present invention.
[0071] Referring to FIGS. 4(a)-(c), there are shoWn differ
ent vieWs of a particularly preferred arrangement of the poWer
distribution apparatus 200 (hereinafter referred to as the
‘socket cube’); In this arrangement, there is one master elec
trical outlet 202, one standby electrical outlet 2031 and one
slave electrical outlet 2032, each disposed on a respective
orthogonal face of the socket cube 200. The standby and slave
electrical outlets 2031, 2032 are respectively mounted on
either side of the socket cube 200, With the master electrical
outlet 202 being located on an orthogonal face therebetWeen.
the television into an “on” state, the socket bank 1 acts to
[0072] For ease of use and reference for the user, the master
electrical outlet 202 can be coloured coded and/or marked in
some way, eg by applying a suitable paint or permanent
transfer etc. to the corresponding face of the socket cube 200.
In this Way, the chances of the user inadvertently plugging a
master device into a standby or slave electrical outlet can be
supply poWer to the set-top box 32 and PVR 33, and DVD
signi?cantly reduced.
sole 36 may also be connected to the television 31 and some
of the other devices.
[0065] When the socket bank 1 is attached to the mains
supply, the master electrical outlet 2 is able to provide poWer
directly to the television 31. At the instant the user sWitches
player 34, the ampli?er 35 and the games console 36, by Way
[0073]
of the standby outlets 3a, 3b and slave outlets 7a-c respec
tively. Hence, during normal use, poWer is provided to all the
peripheral devices connected to the socket bank 1. HoWever,
When the user decides to turn off the television 31, the sensing
connectors 204, to permit insertion into a mains poWer supply
socket. The pins 204 provide poWer to the master electrical
outlet 202 and selectively to the standby and slave electrical
means detects a fall in the poWer draWn from the master
electrical outlet 2, thereby prompting the controller to discon
nect the outlets 3a, 3b, 7a-c from the poWer supply, thereby
poWering doWn the peripheral devices 32-36.
The socket cube 200 includes integral electrical pin
outlets 2031, 2032, in accordance With the operation of the
present controller. The master, standby and slave electrical
connections (i.e. poWer rails) are enclosed Within the socket
cube 200, and a mains rated fuse 205 is included for electrical
safety purposes.
Apr. 9, 2009
US 2009/0091192 A1
[0074] For additional safety, the apertures associated With
the master, standby and slave electrical outlets 202, 2031,
2032 may be covered by internal, retractable shutters, Which
mechanically retract Whenever a master or slave device is
inserted into a respective outlet In this Way, the chances of
inadvertently touching a poWer rail can be further minimised
When inserting or removing devices. Moreover, the shutters
provide an additional advantage that dust and other debris is
prevented from getting inside of the socket cube 200 When not
in use.
[0075] Referring again to FIG. 4(a), the area generally des
ignated by 206 contains the internal controller, as described in
detail in relation to the previous arrangements. The physical
con?guration of the controller Will be understood to be
dependent on the particular siZe and shape of the socket cube
200. Therefore, the con?guration of the controller may differ
slightly betWeen different arrangements, depending on the
Wherein folloWing an interruption of poWer, the controller
automatically restores poWer to the at least one standby
electrical outlet after a predetermined interval of time.
2. The apparatus of claim 1, Wherein the sensing means is
adapted to detect changes in the operating state of the master
device by sensing poWer draWn from the master electrical
outlet by the master device.
3. The apparatus of claim 2, Wherein the prescribed change
corresponds to a fall in poWer draWn from the master electri
cal outlet from a ?rst, higher level, to a second, loWer level.
4. The apparatus of claim 1, Wherein the sensing means is
adapted to detect changes in an electrical signal derived from
the master device, the changes in the signal corresponding to
changes in the operating state of the master device.
5. The apparatus of claim 4, Wherein the electrical signal is
components used.
an output voltage taken from one or more of the serial port,
[0076]
parallel port, FireWire port, ISA bus, PCI bus and universal
serial bus (USB).
6. The apparatus of claim 4, Wherein the electrical signal is
To provide the user With a visual indication that the
socket cube 200 is in use, a LED 207 is mounted on a surface
of the cube. This can optionally be turned on Whenever the
cube receives poWer or only When a master device is inserted
into the master electrical outlet 202. To permit easy vieWing,
the LED 207 is located on an outWardly facing surface of the
cube (e. g. on a face-substantially opposite to the pin connec
tors). Additional LEDs may be included to indicate the poWer
status of the attached slave devices etc.
[0077]
In accordance With earlier arrangements, the socket
cube 200 can also include an infra-red sensor 208 Which
permits remote control of the cube via a suitable hand held
device etc. Alternatively, other sensor types may be used
including optical, ultrasonic and Wireless (e.g. WiFi, Blue
tooth). As shoWn in FIG. 4(a), the sensor 208 is mounted on
the cube face that is opposite to the electrical pin connectors
204 (i.e. outWardly facing), so as to provide the Widest angu
lar coverage for detection of transmitted signals.
[0078]
The socket cube 200 may also include one or more
interface ports and/or connectors (e.g. USB, RS232,
FireWire), as described in relation to earlier arrangements. In
FIG. 4(c), the socket cube is illustrated as including a tele
phone jack connector 209, eg type R111. This connector can
provide a connection to a telecommunications device, such
as, but not limited to, a telephone, modem or fax machine etc.
or alternatively, a netWork adaptor card.
[0079] Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, there are illustrated
other arrangements of the socket cube 200, With like features
being labelled consistently With FIG. 4. In these arrange
ments, the socket cube comprises a elongated portion,
denoted generally by 206, in Which is housed the internal
an electromagnetic Wave corresponding to one of the Wireless
protocols, WiFi and Bluetooth.
7. The apparatus of claim 6, Wherein the controller is
adapted to make available at the standby electrical outlet a
restored poWer level Which is su?icient to provide at least a
standby poWer to a peripheral device.
8. The apparatus of claim 7, Wherein the predetermined
interval of time commences substantially after the interrup
tion of poWer to the at least one standby electrical outlet.
9. The apparatus of claim 8, Wherein the predetermined
interval of time is greater than about 1 second.
10. The apparatus of claim 9, Wherein the predetermined
interval of time is in the range of about 1 second to about 10
seconds.
11. The apparatus of claim 10, Wherein the controller
includes a timing circuit operable to be triggered by the inter
ruption of poWer to the at least one standby electrical outlet.
12. The apparatus of claim 11, further comprising one or
more slave electrical outlets con?gured to be isolated from
the poWer supply by the controller in response to the detected
fall in poWer from the master electrical outlet.
13. The apparatus of claim 12, Wherein at least one of the
slave electrical outlets has a con?gurable mode enabling a
user to de?ne the slave outlet as a standby electrical outlet,
thereby enabling poWer to be restored to the outlet after the
controller. In this Way, additional space can be provided for a
further outlet socket Which may be an additional master 202,
predetermined interval of time.
14. The apparatus of claim 13, Wherein the con?gurable
standby 2031 or slave electrical outlet 2032, as shoWn.
[0080] Other embodiments are Within the scope of the
mode is de?ned by a user input means.
accompanying claims.
15. The apparatus of claim 14, Wherein the user input
means is a slide sWitch having at least tWo distinct positions,
1. A poWer distribution apparatus comprising:
each corresponding to a particular mode.
a master electrical outlet and at least one standby electrical
outlet, both connectable to a common electrical poWer
16. The apparatus of claim 14 or claim 15, Wherein the user
input means has an associated visual noti?cation means, hav
Supply;
sensing means for detecting changes in the operating state
of a master device; and
a controller for interrupting poWer to the at least one
standby electrical outlet in response to the sensing
means detecting a prescribed change in operating state
of the master device;
ing an output indicating the particular mode.
17. The apparatus of claim 3, Wherein the ?rst level corre
sponds to a poWer level Which is su?icient to provide operat
ing poWer for a master device.
18. The apparatus of claim 3 or claim 17, Wherein the
second level corresponds to a poWer level Which is substan
Apr. 9, 2009
US 2009/0091192 A1
tially Zero or su?icient to provide standby power for a master
device.
19. A method of poWer distribution comprising the steps of:
supplying electrical poWer to a master electrical outlet and
at least one standby electrical outlet, both connected to a
common electrical poWer supply;
interrupting the poWer to the at least one standby electrical
outlet, via a controller, When the sensing means detects
a prescribed change in operating state of the master
device;
Wherein folloWing an interruption of poWer, the controller
automatically restores poWer to the at least one standby
electrical outlet after a predetermined interval of time.
detecting, via a sensing means, changes in the operating
state of a master device;
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