Meet Valta and the rise of the smart socket

Daniel Bader

July 2, 2013 10:14pm

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It’s an inevitability that every part of the home will soon be digitized and smartphone-controllable. Nest brought the intelligent thermostat to the mainstream; Philips introduced the smartphone-controlled lightbulb; and Canary is a smoke detector with an API.

With every piece of electronic in your home sucking power even when not in use, another company, Valta, based out of Toronto, purports to change the way we interact with our power sockets.

The team is attempting to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter for a product of the same name, a passthrough WiFi-enabled device that plugs into existing wall sockets to intelligently control the current — and the gadgets generating it — from a smartphone.

The potential here is huge: because Valta can detect when plugged-in electronics are sucking up power, even in standby mode, it can intervene in one of two ways to save you money. First, it can potentially shut off the offending unit or, barring that, it can send a push notification identifying the culprit and reminding you to shut it off manually.

Valta also supports geofencing, a system by which the Valta and your iPhone communicate to determine that you’re not home and no longer need a particular gadget for the time being.

Each Valta plug uses a standard three-pronged North American socket with an electrical rating of 120V/15A/60Hz/1800W. It uses a nominal amount of power while in use, between 0.6W and 1.1W, but has the potential to save considerably more than that in daily use. Also required is a v-Hub box that plugs a user’s router and facilitates communication between each Valta and an iPhone, iPad or computer.

The company will launch with iOS support only and introduce an Android app shortly thereafter.  The team has a working prototype after working on the project for two years, but needs Kickstarter support to continue development, order components and receive product certification. They hope to launch in late October, early November.

Backers can get a v-Hub and three sockets for $139 and go all the way up to $349 for one v-Hub and eight sockets.

—> Valta

  • E. R

    Interesting concept for sure.

  • Keith

    The geofencing is cool, but can it wait for multiple users to leave? What if I leave the house/geofence but my family is still there?

  • Svennen

    Interesting, yes for sure, but I’d like to see an option to get it built in to the socket itself. This is a little too bulky for me.

  • J,K

    And real automation is around the corner. Interesting stuff!

  • J,K

    #Svennen – I think I saw similar thing. But as you said they get bulky and expensive.

  • nico

    Your houses will now be hacked via wirelss technology
    Stupid people don’t think, until something bad happens.

    • J,K

      I wonder how wifi and cell-phone would work with wire attached :)

    • chris

      Stupid people don’t innovate. Innovation requires risk. With that said, this technology isn’t even new, and “hacking” is highly improbable.

  • Jeff Lin

    the geofencing feature will generate a push message to you allowing you to decide whether you would like to turn the device off or not.

  • Jeff Lin

    The system is the smallest in size of all the socket systems in the market place. It is designed so that if one plug is used for the socket, the other plug is still usable for other things.

  • Jeff Lin

    The communication protocol is RF 915mhz, not WiFi, and the control hub is linked to the customer’s router through a hardline connection. Being hacked should not be an issue unless the smartphone is hacked.

  • Jim

    $139 for device
    $0.18*/1000watts or 5500 watts per $1
    5500 x $139= 764,500 watts
    This means that this device would have to save you 764,500 watts or 764Kw to break even.
    Like most “E” or “Green” products, if you do the math it takes years upon year’s to break even. With that said though… I like the idea and Will look at he device one it is on the market.

    • Kamal

      True, it takes really a while before you actually see some savings;-) LED is a good example of same Green idea. Upfront cost is far more expensive than the possible savings, however, the kind of illumination that LED can provide is simply not an option with Incandescent devices.

      In this case, ease of controlling and monitoring appliances remotely gets even more interesting on top of real savings.