Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has just won a patent for an Intelligent power-enabled communications port, which would provide a new way to power homes. According to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the port “supplies power in accordance with a standard” that’s “equipped with a variable power supply and a power line communications module.” Signals on the conducts make it possible for a port controller to “negotiate power requirements with peripheral devices” and adjust the power supply accordingly.

Apple Patent
Credit: U.S. Patent And Trademark Office.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s new patent is for power-enabled data ports that contractors could build right into the wiring. The ports would then provide power either in place of or in addition to conventional power methods. By adding these ports in a building, devices that operate on a direct current could be powered without the need for an AC-DC adapter. Currently every individual device has its own AC-DC adapter, and each type of device has a different kind. In addition to providing power, these ports could also provide a connection for data like local networking or Internet.

The diagram above shows how a port like the one covered under Apple’s new patent would work. The ports would be powered from the power supplies that are centrally located inside the building. That main supply could be connected to the main power inside the building, and it may also contain a controller that could negotiate with devices to determine how much power they require in order to operate.

Former Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) executive Tony Fadell, who worked on the iPhone and the iPod, invented this new power supply method before he left the company to found Nest, which makes a smart thermostat. Theoretically that thermostat could plug into a port like this one.