Intel has been just granted a patent which enables electronic devices to be switched on via an intermediate computing device.
The document, filed in 2007, describes a networked environment of devices and is a step beyond the WoL (Wake on LAN (Local Area Network)) feature. In an environment of at least three devices, where on device is requesting data from a second device that is turned off, there is a third device that will is capable of determining that state and switch on a computing device on demand. The benefit of such an environment may be reduced power consumption as WoL device never can be entirely turned off and will always consume power.
According to Intel, the feature of "powering on devices via intermediate computing device" not only applies to enterprise scenarios, but also home environments where "devices coupled to a network may act as distributed media storage and playback with reduced power consumption when such devices are not in use." The power-on message is supported to be transmitted via wired and wireless signals over local and wide-area networks.
While Intel remains blurry about the exact technologies and protocols being used - the patent refers to virtually any networked computing environment and their data transfer protocols - the company specifically notes that the power-on feature may be built into processors and other circuits, logic units, or devices within the system. The actual data transfer takes place "via a point-to-point (PtP) interface using PtP interface circuits, respectively." The microprocessor would include a high speed (e.g., general purpose) I/O bus channel in some embodiments of the invention to facilitate communication with various components (such as I/O device(s))," the patent states.