Sleep mode, shutdown, awake mode…and sleep talking mode? A new hardware prototype from UC San Diego and Microsoft Research computer scientists introduces the energy-saving state–a middle ground between sleep mode and awake mode. Sleep talking mode, enabled by the scientists’ Somniloquy prototype, keeps a PC in sleep mode while still allowing it to stay connected to the Internet for activities that don’t require human interaction (i.e. Bittorrent downloads and virus scans).
Somniloquy is essentially a USB-connected hardware and software plug-in that contains a low-power processor, small amounts of memory, a lightweight operating system, and flash memory to store data. The plug-in’s processor works with the PC’s network interface to impersonate a sleeping PC to other hosts on the network–much like the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off trick of leaving a human-impersonating sound system and a dummy in a bed to fool people into thinking a body is there. When certain tasks like movie downloads finish and fill up Somniloquy’s flash memory, the device wakes up the computer to transfer data off the flash drive. Once the transfer is complete, Somniloquy puts the computer back in sleep talking mode.
The research scientists’ calculations show that energy savings from Somnliquy are significant. Depending on the setting, the device uses 11% to 24% less power than a typical idle PC. That translates into energy savings of 60% to 80%. Until Somniloquy goes to market, there are a slew of energy-saving computer applications available to tide you over, including Verdiem’s new Edison app, the Vista Battery Saver, and Auto Shutdown.