You're Plugging in What?

While WLAN access points and IP phones will be the biggest beneficiaries of POE initially, in time a wide variety of powered devices are likely to be attached to corporate LANs as the LAN becomes a universal data and power distribution architecture, says Steven Carlson, chairman of the IEEE 802.3af task force.

Perhaps the most offbeat powered device in circulation today is PowerDsine's novelty adaptation of a Norelco shaver. But users are also likely to see the emergence of more practical powered devices, from IP security cameras like Sony Corp.'s SNC-VL10N to building automation and control systems.

"You have a vast number of proprietary systems in a building -- lighting control, security, heating, keypads, security cameras -- and all that has its own cabling structure," Carlson says. He expects all of them to be powered through Ethernet in the future because material costs are lower, cable installation costs are lower because a licensed electrician isn't needed, and TCP and Ethernet establish a common network architecture for these systems.

Sony's SNC-VL10N IP security camera receives power from and feeds video stream back over a single Ethernet connection.
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Sony's SNC-VL10N IP security camera receives power from and feeds video stream back over a single Ethernet connection.
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Amir Lehr, vice president of business development at PowerDsine, says PSEs could be used to trickle-charge handheld and notebook computers if manufacturers design them to accept in-line power. Ethernet may eventually provide operating power for such devices as well, he says, although most notebooks today consume more than the 12.95 watts POE can deliver.

"Certainly there is a case to be made to eliminate a power connection for a desktop or LAN-connected notebook," says Brian Zucker, technology evangelist at Dell Computer Corp. But Zucker adds that he's not aware of anyone pursuing that yet.

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