A new face detection software tool aims to save energy by switching off a PC’s display if it senses the user is not looking at it
The latest piece of eco-friendly software claims to be so clever it can tell whether you are looking at your computer or not, and switch your display off or on accordingly.
Developed by Sheffield-based environmental computer manufacturer VeryPC, PecoBOO uses face detection technology to determine if someone is sitting at the computer and needs to use to the display.
“We asked, ‘what if your computer could tell instantly when you are not using it and make power changes to reflect that?’ said Peter Hopton, VeryPC managing director. “That’s when we thought of the light in the fridge. It only comes on when you need it. PecoBOO turns your computer display into the ‘light in the fridge’.”
He added that, although the actual PCs of computer systems usually consume more energy than their monitors, the firm wanted to focus on this key peripheral after having reduced the amount of power used by its own GreenPC low-energy desktop computers to as little as half the power of their displays.
“We realised that we had to find a way to apply better energy savings to the display itself. This revolutionary combination of facial detection with power management takes energy saving on your computer to a new level,” he said.
Research carried out by the manufacturer found many users turn off their PCs’ in-built power management because it interferes with their daily use. “Once disabled, the settings tend to stay that way forever as we forget to change them back,” Hopton added.
PecoBOO is designed to be unobtrusive and not interfere with common tasks that do not involve continuous interaction with the PC – such as streaming video – which screensavers, that are set to activate after predetermined intervals, can do.
Simply put, “it will never turn your screen off when you are looking at it,” Hopton said. And it will also work as soon as the user leaves the computer, removing the need to wait for in-built screen management software to activate.
The PC manufacturer was also quick to stress the ‘detection’ characteristics of the software, as opposed to facial recognition technology, to allay any privacy fears: “It cannot tell who you are or even distinguish one user from another. No data is recorded. PecoBOO is not a security tool, it’s an energy saving tool,” he said.