The common electric socket will serve as your home's connection to broadband with a new chip developed by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. — doing away with all the Ethernet cables or the hassle of hooking up to a wireless network device.
Products are still being developed, but gadgets embedded with the chip from the Japanese manufacturer of Panasonic products can hook up to a broadband network by plugging into the common electrical outlet, company officials said Thursday.
That's because the Osaka-based company has come up with technology to use electric wiring in the home to relay not just electricity but also data.
The technology has been around for some time — including in the United States — but Matsushita's system is unique in that it delivers fast-speed broadband information at up to 170 megabits per second, which is faster than Ethernet.
The advantage is that the lowly electric socket is everywhere. Right now, a broadband outlet still isn't usually available in every room, even in homes that have broadband connections.
In the future home envisioned by Matsushita, people will be able to download and watch high-definition movies in any room of the house that has an outlet.
Attach a special device made by Matsushita into a socket and all you have to do is plug your TV or other gadgets into a socket for instant connection to broadband, which allows for faster transmission of online information than dial-up telephone connections.
Matsushita hopes to eventually sell refrigerators, TVs and other products with the chip already installed.
A network-connected refrigerator may allow users to connect from a mobile phone or laptop to check whether you're low on eggs, for example. Or you may want to turn gadgets off or on, such as your washing machine or air-conditioner, from outside the home.
But for now, an adaptor when plugged into an outlet will allow gadgets with Ethernet connections — even those without the Matsushita chip — to receive broadband.
Matsushita official Tomiya Miyazaki said that even homes with optical fiber connections don't have broadband outlets in every room, and people are tired of setting up gadgets with their home wireless LAN device.
"Our goal is to have every gadget plugged in this way so that people don't have to even think about connecting it to broadband," he said.
Samples of the technology are being made available to companies, including other Japanese electronics makers, that may wish to use it for their products, Matsushita officials said. A demonstration of the technology will be on show at the CEATEC exhibition that showcases electronic technology, opening near Tokyo next month.
Acceptance of the technology is more likely in Europe and the United States because of stricter regulations over power line use in Japan, according to Matsushita. The company is in talks with the Japanese government to have regulations eased.