Even when it's not in use, phone chargers draw a significant amount of power due to the small tax when converting wall AC to phone-palatable DC. If you add up the yearly energy loss of the seven million mobile devices worldwide, you get the energy production of 27,000 wind turbines, or two nuclear power plants. These are some seriously big numbers for something that seems so innocuous. In an effort to curtail the wasteful trickle of these electric faucets, a group from Finland has created the ASMO, the first smart charger that completely cuts off power when you aren't charging.
Unlike other chargers that completely shut off, the ASMO can actually turn on and open the energy sluice gates without flipping a switch, which can be important if you're tiredly plugging in your phone in the late hours of the night. When you unplug the phone, a relay (electronic switch) cuts off the charger and isolates it from the power grid. And if things go well for the Kickstarter, we might see that happen when the phone hits 100 percent battery when still plugged in.
While an individual using an ASMO won't necessarily see the energy cost benefits or single-handedly save the world from severe costal flooding, rainforest destruction, and a destroyed ozone layer, the charger does have one direct benefit to its user—fire safety. By cutting off power, the charger doesn't have any live wires to spark up and burn your house down.
Ethan Wolff-Mann is an editor at Supercompressor. His roommate's charger almost burned down their apartment one time. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.