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Power Hardware

Wireless Power Gets A Boost 102

srizah writes "At CES, Las Vegas, two companies — Arizona-based WildCharge and Michigan-based Fulton have demonstrated what are very different ways to charge gadgets sans wires. "
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Wireless Power Gets A Boost

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  • I, for one ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    Can't wait for this stuff. Imagine it - slap your mobile down on your desk and it's charged. Your MacBook - chargind while you use it with no wires. Awesome. A pad that can charge multiple devices (as in the article) would also be great. But how realistic is this, by which I mean, how far away is this tech from being 'in the shops'? I suspect it'll be some time. Wingrove says their first device will be available this Summer, but I'm sceptical. And I *don't* want my phone/laptop etc. to have a wireless don
    • Why settle for slapping it down on your desk. How about just get in your car.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      What is to prevent technologies like this from malfunctioning and frying everyone in the room? I'm not trolling, I'm just curious about the tech behind it.
      • Re:I, for one ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by rahlquist ( 558509 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @09:20AM (#17507130) Homepage
        Its been in limited use for years in Electric toothbrushes and its relatively safe. If you understand how inductance and transformers work then you've got more than half the understanding.

        From Wikipedia "A transformer is an electrical device that transfers energy from one circuit to another by magnetic coupling with no moving parts. A transformer comprises two or more coupled windings, or a single tapped winding and, in most cases, a magnetic core to concentrate magnetic flux. A changing current in one winding creates a time-varying magnetic flux in the core, which induces a voltage in the other windings."

        Think of these devices as each the charging base and the unit to be charged having half the transformer, bring them into proximity of each other and they begin to work. Ok its an over simplification but thats the basics.
        • My electric toothbrush works like this. Basically half the transformer is in the handle end of the toothbrush, and the other half is wrapped around a socket that it plugs into. Apparantly brushes like this have been available since 1997 [].
    • If there is one thing that is absolutelly non-realistic in your post is the implicit idea that manufacturers could agree on standards so that you could have a single pad charging all your devices.
      And personally, between the inconvinience of plugging a battery charger every couple of days for my phone, my MP3 and my handheld console and having a device radiating WATTS in my bedroom, I'll stick to the first option.
    • I can see one of these on every airport table some years from now.

      Not having to get under your desk to plug that damn AC/DC adapter. This might not be power over air... but it's a HUGE improvement indeed.
  • when you consider that the key to this device actually operating is that your device needs to be "fitted internally or externally with an adapter... ". Unless this also acts as a transformer then its pretty much useless. I can't see manufactures integrating internal adaptors in their devices either since it increases the device size and introduces heat.
    • So let me get this right. So instead of being a frustrated consumer because I'm spending $6.00 for a new power adaptor each time I get a new phone/MP3 player/etc. I now can get frustrated over buying a proprietary inductive coil pick-up unit that I have to jury-rig to the back of my already too small phone/MP3 player...and likely spend 3 times the amount.

      If IEEE or someone introduced an open standard for this type of technology, then perhaps it has a much better chance at taking off and being adopted,

  • by dino213b ( 949816 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @09:24AM (#17507162)
    (Or MPT) is an actual working technology already in use - I seem to recall a small experimental, remotely controlled, airplane that was powered this way. A ground microwave dish followed it as it moved across the sky and that powered the motors and other scientific experiments. On the other hand, a stationary object such as a cell phone shouldn't have a problem being powered in a dedicated recharge zone (such as a counter or shelf that would be designated as a human-unsafe area). Wikipedia claims that power transmission efficiencies and radiation are mostly negligible -- if so, does that mean that we should be going after it or is there inherent danger to the process? mission []
    • Just remember in SimCity 2000 when the microwave beam (from the microwave power plant) missed and burnt down your city.
    • by clacke ( 214199 )
      If power transmission efficiencies are negligible, I say we look to improve them before we try to use this on a larger scale...
    • Someone did something similar using a high-powered LASER to levitate an object. The LASER basically hit a specially designed absorption surface that heated the air in close proximity, causing rapid expansion, thus producing thrust much like a rocket motor. Of course the problem was that anything that got in between the path of the LASER and the object was pretty much toasted.
    • More than likely, battery companies would first have to agree on a standard way of building their batteries. They could then sacrifice some battery real-estate to the induction charger. For the consumer, they would have a choice between a longer lasting battery, and a wireless rechargeable battery.
  • Wall outlet chargers are usually shipped along with the gadgets.
    Car chargers usually are sold for a couple of bucks or little more.
    USB chargers are getting more and more adopted and costs are dropping.
    So I'd say the wireless (but not touchless) charger is more likely to be another gadget than some real new solution.
    First you have to buy new gadgets that support such a charging technology.
    Then if you need to charge more gadgets you'll need a larger charger ...
    • by cweber ( 34166 )
      I thought the same initially. But consider a world where one of these wireless charging technologies becomes a widely used standard. Good-bye gadgets, hello universal recharging! It's all about standards, simple ones if possible. Wireless just adds another convenience factor.

      Now if we could also standardize wall outlets worldwide...
  • The latter would be a real advance in technology!
    I use a cell phone for one week and recharge it for 1 hour a week.
  • The wireless Desk (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cyclomedia ( 882859 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @10:23AM (#17507774) Homepage Journal
    I've muttered about this before, what i'd like is a desk that was just a simple large flat inductive surface (with a nice layer of veneer on top). It could handle communication between devices (instead of insecurely and noisily shouting all your data over bluetooth et-al) and power/charge any reasonably small compatible device placed on it (laptops and monitors might be too beefy). digital cameras and ipods could just have a contact plate on one or more surfaces (the bottom of the camera, the back of the ipod) and would just show up a-la USB in your taskbar when you plonk them on the same desk as your PC. you could register your keyboard to your PC but the mouse might need some backup power onboard for when you're thrashing it about. Desks could be wired together to create workgroups in office spaces, that way everyone would be able to use the printer and scanner on the end table as if it were a native device, though they'd need to be queueable and lockable depending on who was using them, but you could still lock-out other people from messing with the digital camera that's on your desk.

    basically expand the computer to include your entire desk, without all the annoying wires
  • We need a low power standard (maybe its USB). So can all have many nice small plugs on the edge of our desks to plugin phones, PDAs, etc.
  • Especially if the rate of charge is standard. The applpications are limitless:

    - No more travel chargers. Just throw your bluetooth headset and your phone on a pad and be done with it
    - Something needs to be charged in a car? Toss it on there.
    - Mp3 players would be able to charged while not being plugged into a USB or a separate charger.

    Then if microwaves become reality....ooooo.

    Imagine a world not dependent on batteries (or that batteries are officially for backup). A world where technology is ran
    • Microwaves are a reality, and we use them to cook our food all the time.

      If there is enough omni-directional microwave power in the air to power devices, there is plenty to effect our bodies. Not sure of the extent of that effect, though.

      I've heard stories of workers back in the day standing in front of some big microwave antennas on a mountain near here to keep warm, and using it to cook hot dogs on a stick. I'm not sure as to the validity of the stories, or why they wouldn't make the connection between t
  • So then you have a 90Watt electromagnet on your desk. Has anyone wondered yet what will happen to hard disks/microdrives inside laptops and MP3 players?
    • by AJWM ( 19027 )
      Probably not much. Hard drives have builtin magnets of their own, after all.

      This caught my interest the other day; I got several gizmos (shake-to-charge flashlight and a "Magnetix" construction kit toy) that contain pretty powerful magnets. My office still has a lot of old magnetic media around -- floppy disks, cassette tapes -- so I had to pay attention to where I put them, but it occurs to me that those are both pretty obsolete media, being replaced by optical or semiconductor (ie flash) memory. I foun
      • by DrLex ( 811382 )
        My experience with floppies and cassettes is that it's pretty easy to make them completely unusable with a magnet to the point where they can't be re-formatted or re-recorded. Then again, the magnet I used was a pretty strong U-shaped one, and I didn't just put it 'in the vicinity' of the media, if you know what I mean ;)
        Anyhow, we're talking about static magnetic fields here. A wireless power system needs to use an oscilating field, which is a different story. For the rotating platters of a HD, the static
    • So then you have a 90Watt electromagnet on your desk. Has anyone wondered yet what will happen to hard disks/microdrives inside laptops and MP3 players?

      Has anyone wondered yet what will happen to you?
      A microwave radiation of 90W is really a lot, especially if you spend a lot of time in the nearbies. That's a LOT more than the power emitted by your wireless card or bluethoot adapter. Those devices will never be available commercially in Europe, that's because they will never get a CE mark because of obvi
  • I have a silly question that'll no doubt expose my ignorance on the matter. With this sort of power, is there a lot of electricity wasted? In other words, would my electric bill go up for the same amount of charging?
    • by DrLex ( 811382 )
      This question is not as silly as you think. Considering efficiency, nothing can beat a direct wired connection, but the question is how much losses this wireless method will induce (no pun intended). Assuming that the cable is well-dimensioned, a simple wired mains adaptor has only one point where losses occur, being the adaptor circuitry itself (there may be some additional regulation in the device itself, but this could be seen as part of the adaptor). A wireless system like this has 4 places where losses
  • I don't really think a wire to charge something is major hassle. However, having a wire for a Nokia 6233, another for an older Nokia, one for a Sony camera, one for a portable flash to HDD reader, one for an Icy Box portable HDD, etc. Yeah that's a bit tiresome.

    Rather than some induction thing like this, I would rather have most devices chargeable from a standard connector - a USB-type standard for power. The new Nokia connector is tiny - I can't imagine any device it wouldn't fit. I'd just rather have
  • I wonder how the basic idea of solar power panels could work. For example, calculators, etc are powered wireless/touchless. Seems like this could be a possibility, although probably inefficient.

    Your device could have some sort of solar panel on each side, and the charging pad/emitter could be an intense / invisible spectrum of light to charge. Ideas? Thoughts?

    • Your device could have some sort of solar panel on each side, and the charging pad/emitter could be an intense / invisible spectrum of light to charge.

      Invisible light is either infrared (heat radiation) or it's UV (kills the eyes and skin in the truly invisible spectrum, plus I don't think good UV solar cells exist). But the source could just be a normal desk lamp. Probably not strong enough to charge a laptop, but it may work for things like cell phones, iPods, and calculators with more efficient solar

  • Instead of inductively coupling, how about a system that allows for incidental direct connection?

    Imagine a "pad" that was made up of a grid of anchored stainless steel ball bearings. Devices would have conductive contact surfaces that incidentally make contact in some fashion when placed on the pad. A microprocessor senses a decrease in resistance and routes 5V between two or more appropriate points on the grid, powering the device. The device would be responsible to step up/down to the appropriate vol

  • We all know that no matter how many leaps and bounds we make it will all be proprietary in the end. Even if we end up being able to power most of our consumer electronics in a wireless environment you will still have to buy some pos with a brand name on it to interface into a purely universal power source. So clap and rejoice all you want, it will be ruined by big business.

  • I wonder how the 'Pad' one would work with electric cars. Imagine being able to drive into a docking station, waiting a few minutes after you drive over the plate and then go? It seems like a great application for this kind of thing.

  •   This type of device would go great for airlines and trays. One can use portable devices longer and recharge when needed right there on the plane.
  • by A_Non_Moose ( 413034 ) on Monday January 08, 2007 @06:16PM (#17515176) Homepage Journal
    I recall some fellow techs were working with building planning (.edu) to try
    and get a conference room wired for power/networks.

    Well, the specs were there, but ignored and the floor was poured and set, only
    no power, no network.

    We were livid (ok, I was amused...this is still a .edu, after all).

    One of the higher ups grilled the front man about the situation and wireless networks
    were just getting usable, and it was decided that was the best option.

    Then he had to ask "What about wireless power?"

    Ever the diplomat, the front man gave a good answer of "no can do" and maintained composure.

    Only after he left, I piped up "Sure you can have wirelss power....It's called LIGHTNING!"

    The whole room went silent for a few seconds and then erupted in laughter.

    Became a running gag for a few months, too, if we got annoyed at each other we'd do a "spell casting"
    motion and shout "wireless power" a few times.


  • I think it's more basic than that. Why aren't more devices made using a standard power source?

    I think that for small devices, USB should be a standardized charge option.

    It's present on all laptops, many palm tops, and iPod chargers show that the idea is quite feasible.

    I have a cell phone that uses a combination charger/data cable plug on the bottom of it. The plug is a mini-USB plug. I can plug the phone into the charger, and it charges, 12 volts. I can plug the phone into a USB data cable on my Linux lapto
    • by asc99c ( 938635 )
      If that's a Motorola phone, I believe you can download some free software that will allow charging. Check their website. I had one a while back but various annoyances caused me to send it back within a couple of days and go back to Nokia.
  • It would be really cool to through anything on to a pad to recharge it but one thing keeps nagging at me that nobody ever seems to ask:

    How do you talk on your cellphone and charge it at the same time without resorting to spending money on a headset? Wouldn't you look really silly and be really uncomfortable talking with your head against the table?

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's