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Power Cellphones Handhelds Hardware

Fujitsu Eyes Wireless Gadget Charging For 2012 158

Posted by timothy
from the don't-cross-the-streams dept.
angry tapir writes "Researchers at Fujitsu Laboratories have developed a wireless charging system that they say can simultaneously charge a variety of portable gadgets over a distance of several centimeters without the need for cables. The system, which will be detailed at a technical conference in Japan this week, could begin appearing in mobile phones and other products as soon as 2012, the company said. Fujitsu's system is based on magnetic resonance in which power can be wirelessly sent between two coils that are tuned to resonate at the same frequency."
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Fujitsu Eyes Wireless Gadget Charging For 2012

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  • Efficiency (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jaxxa (1580613) on Monday September 13, 2010 @02:06AM (#33558538)
    I believe the standard question is what is the efficiency?
  • by jabithew (1340853) on Monday September 13, 2010 @02:20AM (#33558594)

    It would be nice if we could standardise this stuff. There are a few recharging matts* knocking around for sale at the moment, but all the systems are incompatible. Manufacturers won't build this into mobile phones etc. unless it's their own system or a standard.

    Just when we're finally converging around USB as a standard charger, it looks like we're going to have half a dozen wireless charging systems (one for Fujitsu, one for Apple...).

    *I do know that this isn't one of those, but it will still need infrastructure on the charged side.

  • by seanadams.com (463190) on Monday September 13, 2010 @03:08AM (#33558784) Homepage
    I'd be surprised if portable devices account for even 0.1% of household energy usage. Who cares? Worry about your HVAC, laundry machines, refrigerator, home server, incandescent lights, etc.
  • by keatonguy (1001680) <`keaton.prower' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday September 13, 2010 @03:14AM (#33558796)

    Ugh, not this again.

    Let me state it clearly for the record: reducing power consumption never has and never will have any significant impact on ecological degradation as a result of pollution. The only way get rid of dirty energy is to get rid of dirty energy. We have access to incredible amounts of kinetic energy from wind and waves and thermal energy from the planetary mantle and good old sunlight, enough to outstrip anything that can be produced by coal, oil, or fission. The only reason we don't have it is that it isn't 'profitable'.

  • by iamacat (583406) on Monday September 13, 2010 @03:24AM (#33558826)

    In this day and age when we want to save energy, not mess up our environment, communications and bodies by leaking it to unwanted places? Standardize on USB charges instead and wire clutter will be kept to a minimum. I see important uses in implanted medical devices, waterproof equipment and other cases when direct physical access to the device is impractical. But for cell phones/laptops this is positively silly.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday September 13, 2010 @03:24AM (#33558828)

    Funny, since the concern not long ago was making wall warts more efficient (switching ones did a good job on that) and working on reducing "leaky" devices like TVs and monitors that don't turn fully off (my NEC has a hard off switch for that reason). But now we can lose any and all those gains with an inefficient transfer system.

    Yay.

    They'll have to forgive me if I wish to stick with my nice, efficient, wired connections.

  • It would be nice if we could standardise this stuff.

    The hopes of that ever happening died the day a cell phone manufacturing executive realized how much money he could make with proprietary $30 chargers.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday September 13, 2010 @06:17AM (#33559432)

    Also there's been a push, in the EU in particular, to have real, zero power draw off modes. I don't know that it is a big deal, but I see their point. A bit of draw might not be much, but when you have a lot of devices and it happens all the time, it adds up.

    I'm not sure that it is worth worrying a ton about, however in general efficiency makes sense when possible. Currently wired connections have as close to zero loss as you can get. There is a tiny bit of loss for the resistance of the wires and a bit of insertion loss, but less than a percent for the distances we are talking about most likely. Seems a little silly to then go and have a new charging system that loses a bunch of efficiency just so that we can have a device sit near a charging station, rather than plug in.

    To me it smacks badly of hipster culture. That is is somehow "cool" to set your iPad on a charging device (which is of course plugged in to the wall) but "uncool" to plug in the iPad itself. It seems to be something more for looks than utility.

  • Crazy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Monday September 13, 2010 @06:48AM (#33559516) Homepage Journal

    No wires means no physical ports. Which means no holes in the case. Which means better environmental sealing, lower manufacturing cost, less things to tangle, trip over, remember, replace, get chewed up by the cat/dog/child, clutter up the desk/bedside, and, last but not least, carry.

    We are *very* close to a no-wires solution right now, and I am really excited to see it happen. Bluetooth for audio; wifi for data; inductive coupling for power; satellite GPS for location; acceleration sensors for motion; compass and gyros for orientation; standard AM, FM and even shortwave for non-networked news sources; TV of various standards... all in our hands. And you can add various sensors from there. I grew up in the 1960s, and let me tell you, these ideas are fabulous. The fact that they aren't ideas, but are perfectly practical things we can actually make, that's... wild. And the fact that a lot of them are *already* in devices (like the iPod, for instance)... well, that's just outstanding.

    We just need ultracaps in the power and size ranges that batteries cover right now, and we'll *really* have taken a step forward with our portable devices. Because batteries suck. :) But ultracaps are proving to be very, very hard. :(

    Wireless? You bet your ass. Bring it on.

  • by Twinbee (767046) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:29AM (#33559648) Homepage

    Okay, we'll sort out that out after the 456,917,831 other things which waste more time/energy/money. The top 100 are several orders of magnitude more important than this.

    It's really a drop in the ocean. It's the equivalent of spending 5 minutes trying to cut open a can of shaving cream to get the last little bit.

    I used to go a little OTT on saving paper, or closing the fridge door ASAP, until I realised that the ink is orders of magnitude more expensive, and that the worry (no matter how little) of keeping the fridge closed is not worth the relatively small amount of money lost each year.

    We don't live forever. Let's make life more convenient whilst yes, picking the sensible low and/or middle hanging fruit for energy savers.

  • by Twinbee (767046) on Monday September 13, 2010 @02:29PM (#33563812) Homepage

    I'm sorry, but 5p per year per household *is* miniscule - there's no denying that. 5p x population seems like a lot, but then you need to divide it by the population again to see that 5p per year really is just that - 5p. If there were a quadrillion people in the world, then we can make 5p x quadrillion sound like a stupid sum - that doesn't mean it counts. It's all proportional to the much bigger energy drainers.

    Talking about such trivial energy wastage as though it's important is doing the damage in my opinion, because it's giving the wrong priorities (by a giant margin in this case). If we were to get electric cars even *1* minute sooner for everbody that would be the equivalent of perhaps years of using a standby feature.

    I suggest reading this, not for me to my prove point, but simply because it's really an interesting read anyway:
    http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sustainable/book/tex/ps/1.112.pdf [cam.ac.uk]

    Here's some choice quotes:

    "The result of this lack of meaningful numbers and facts? We are inundated with a flood of crazy innumerate codswallop. The BBC doles out advice on how we can do our bit to save the planet - for example - switch off your mobile phone charger when it's not in use; if anyone objects that mobile phone chargers are not actually our number one form of energy consumption, the mantra - every little helps - is wheeled out."

    "Companies also contribute to the daily codswallop as they tell us how wonderful they are, or how they can help us "do our bit." BP's website, for example, celebrates the reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution they hope to achieve by changing the paint used for painting BP's ships. Does anyone fall for this? Surely everyone will guess that it's not the exterior paint job, it's the stuff inside the tanker that deserves attention, if society's CO2 emissions are to be significantly cut?"

    "Modern phone chargers, when left plugged in with no phone attached, use about half a watt.......... about 0.01 kWh per day. ...... the BBC's advice, always unplug the phone charger, could potentially reduce their energy consumption by one hundredth of one percent (if only they would do it). Every little helps! I don't think so. Obsessively switching off the phone-charger is like bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon."

  • by seanadams.com (463190) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @01:46PM (#33601982) Homepage
    I'm talking about PORTABLE electronics - the little stuff that you charge. They are talking about -plug loads-, which includes vacuum cleaners, a/v equipment, computers, etc.

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