How many times have you been on your computer and then had the phone ring? You go out of the room to answer it, and when you come back you’ve left the computer and monitor on pointlessly for half an hour.
PecoBoo, developed by VeryPC, is an attempt to try and solve that problem. It utilises your webcam and uses face recognition to work out whether you are sitting at your computer. If it can’t find a person for a predetermined amount of time, it will automatically turn off your monitor. However the webcam and software stays on – so as soon as it notices that you have got back to your PC, it switches your monitor back on.
I downloaded the 30 day trial and gave the software a spin. I’m relatively impressed – it takes a bit of fiddling to stop it turning off your monitor when you are still at the system. I found that if you set the idle time to less than about 20 seconds you end up switching your monitor off if you hold your head still – and if you turn your monitor on and off too much you’ll not only end up using more energy than just using it normally, but you’ll also considerably shorten it’s life. It’s also extremely irritating!
Nevertheless, the software did a good job and I do think the face recognition technique is very clever.
To be honest though, the fact that it isn’t free puts me off. To earn back the £9.99 I’d spent in buying the software from turning my monitor off, I’d have to use it for months – which defeats the point a bit. It also poses the question of how much energy does your webcam use if you’re having that on whenever your PC is on.
Overall, if you’re a green geek – buy it and it will save valuable energy utilising extended breaks from the PC. However, for the average user, this will be of little interest.