With computers taking on more entertainment roles where user interaction is not as frequent, typical activity sensing power management sometimes becomes an annoyance rather than a helpful tool. A new webcam application called PecoBOO (with an emphasis on the 'eco') developed by the UK-based environmental computer manufacturer VeryPC uses facial recognition to determine whether or not there is a user in front of the PC. If the user moves away, after 15 minutes, the computer goes into its power-saving standby mode.
This software allows a user to maintain power management without having to constantly keep having to move a mouse or tap a key to let the PC know that a user is still there. "Current power management software doesn't work very well because it interferes with people's lives - they're watching the iPlayer and the monitor sleeps after fifteen minutes so they turn off the power management stuff. This is much simpler."
Occupancy sensors for rooms in buildings are a well-established method for controlling lights in spaces that are intermittently occupied. This provides a similar kind of function for computers.
It should be noted that this is just performing detection of a face, rather than 'facial recognition.' In one case, a glitch was encountered with the system not properly shutting down due to a poster (with a face) on a wall in the computer's field of view.
The software is available for Windows XP and Vista, and comes included with new VeryPC computers. It is also available (in the UK) along with the purchase of a webcam.
written by Brianne, July 09, 2009
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