Pat Meier has a knack of finding innovative new companies to exhibit at Lunch at Piero's each year. One of my favourites at this year's event was a company called Green Plug, who's mission in life appears to be eradicating power cable clutter. I'm sure that there are many wives out there cheering right now, mine included - messy cables probably cause more décor domestic arguments than anything else.
The Green Plug unit plugs directly into your mains socket via a notebook style power cable, while multiple USB style connectors are available at the front for hooking up equipment. The basic idea is that anything that uses a power brick can be powered via the Green Plug, with the unit carving up the available voltage and feeding each device exactly the right amount of power.
There's a detailed handshaking protocol ensuring that you don't blow anything up by feeding it too much voltage. Theoretically, a notebook user could power pretty much everything on their desktop via a Green Plug - notebook, printer, mobile phone, router etc. The guys from Green Plug don't actually produce products, just the technology - the unit that I saw was purely a proof of concept prototype. That said, they did tell me that they're in talks with several companies who are interested in bringing Green Plug products to market, and we'll be reviewing the first ones off the line.