Green Plug & Peter Brady Battle Wasted Energy


Pubescent, cracked-voice TV teen Peter Brady (and his TV siblings) once sang: “It’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange.” Fast forward to today, and you’ll see Christopher Knight, aka Peter Brady (and you kids might know him better from his reality show “My Fair Brady”), showing up at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show to help promote Green Plug, the San Ramon-based firm behind GreenTalk, the first digital communication protocol to convert power via a universal power source to a device’s specific power requirements. Brady, er, Knight (pictured left in the photo) is an investor in the firm.

In late December, Green Plug unveiled a partnership with power adapter-maker Innergie, and at CES 2009 the duo showed off the result: the mCube90G power adapter (pictured below). The new adapter is green in two ways: it cuts phantom power usage because it matches each gadgets’ power needs, and because it works with a variety of consumer electronics, it allows manufacturers to skip making the bulky adapters that are sold alongside most consumer electronics.

Because individual gadgets have different voltage and power requirements, traditionally manufacturers have to make a unique power supply for each one. Unfortunately, these power supplies often last longer than the items they power, and if you’ve ever peered into that drawer chock full of them you have at home, they all look remarkably alike. Green Plug itself estimates Americans toss 1 billion of these e-waste stalwarts into landfills every year.

But at this week’s CES in Las Vegas, Green Plug showed off how to use its power adapter with a range of consumer electronics — from 5V cordless telephones to 19V flat panels — that would normally require numerous adapters and power cords to let them do their thing. A four-plug version is also in the works, which should cover the Best Buy of gadgets we roll with these days.

The Green Plug team also launched a web site “I Want My Green Plug” to let people pick what gadget they’d like to see “greenplugged” next. “Everyone agrees the power model is broken and this is the most positive, constructive way to fix it, ” says Frank Paniagua, Jr., Green Plug’s CEO, founder and serial business partner to Knight. “We’re calling on consumers to unite around our emerging standard.”