Usually, when us modern, sensitive, environmentally-conscious types leave the computer on all night, it's because we're downloading something sizable. But what if our computers could handle that task while in sleep mode, thus saving energy?
Computer scientists at UC San Diego along with Microsoft Research have developed this USB device they dub the Somniloquy, which appropriately enough means "talking in one's sleep." The dongle lets you keep your computer in sleep mode, which saves a ton of energy, while remaining seemingly active on the network. So your computer will be in sleep mode, but you'll still be able to download files or receive IM or VoIP messages, and if an action that requires your computer's full attention does occur, Somniloquy will gently rouse it from its slumber.
The device is actually a very low-power computer, complete with OS and flash memory, and essentially takes over as the computer's presence on the network while the actual computer is asleep. It consumes somewhere between 11 and 24 times less power than a full computer, which makes for some impressive energy savings. The creators are hoping the tech will be incorporated into future network cards so computers have this functionality out of the box. You know what? We're hoping that, too. [PhysOrg via Engadget]