MIT researchers recently debuted a modern way for consumers to save energy. Now they've found a new test subject: the U.S. military.
With support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), engineering professor Steven Leeb and his graduate student John Donnal designed a portable measurement system.
Comprised of five postage stamp-sized sensors, the technology monitors the amount of electricity used by individual devices. MIT envisions an accompanying mobile app that displays data in real time, helping users save money.
The concept has obvious benefits for consumers. But Leeb and Donnal have other plans: Their system could be a "valued tool" for the military, according to ONR.
MIT's system could not only generate major savings in fuel or power, the agency said, but it may also safeguard those soldiers responsible for base resupply.
"At a forward operating base, fuel consumption is paramount," Donnal, a former U.S. Army captain, said, calling the Armed Forces "an ideal customer."
"Or take the case of a Navy vessel. By cutting back on fuel and power consumption, a vessel might be able to sail for longer periods of time before needing replenishment," he added. "Having a way to track energy usage in real time would be extremely valuable."
While Leeb conducts at-sea tests of the system aboard three Coast Guard Cutters near Boston, Donnal, an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, plans to run additional tests on the school's training ships.
The researchers in August estimated a final purchase price around $30, once the technology goes into commercial production.