Power over Ethernet or PoE is a standard for sending power and data in Ethernet cabling through a single cable. It was invented by PowerDsine in 1997 became a IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) standard in 2003. It is commonly found and used by VoIP phones, IP cameras, wireless access points, network switches, wall clocks, and LED lighting among other things.
Similar to USB, PoE can power devices through data cables, however, PoE allows long cable lengths. The IEEE standard requires CAT 5 cables, but CAT 3 cables can work for low power solutions. Up to 15.4 W of DC power is supported, however, PoE+ supports up to 25.5 W of power.
There are many benefits to using PoE. First, it is easier to install ethernet cables than electrical wiring. Secondly, most likely you already have CATx cables in your walls that you can leverage. Thirdly, PoE does not require expensive equipment, and most equipment is plug and play. Finally, it allows you to use the HIo board for those innovative embedded device projects that you have been planning on launching.