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Wireless Power Group Sees Standard Within 6 Months

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the spooky-power-at-a-distance dept.

Power 152

alphadogg writes "The group developing a standard for wireless charging expects to complete its first specification within six months, opening the door for makers of cell phones, digital cameras and other devices to bring compatible products to market. Wireless charging lets consumers place gadgets on a mat that plugs into a wall outlet, and have the devices recharge automatically without needing to plug in each one. Apart from the gee-whiz factor, it's supposed to make life more convenient by letting people walk into their home or office, toss their gadgets onto a mat to recharge and forget about them."

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opportunities (1)

xyph0r (1153429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709770)

This opens up a wide range of opportunities.... much like microwaves. See what happens when you put other shit on the mat.
Like a lump of really conductive metal.
Or a baby

Re:opportunities (2, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709838)

Well, unless the baby implements the correct handshaking protocol with the controller there shouldn't be a problem. And as for metal, I'm assuming that the standard (or decent implementations of it) will deal with what to do in the event the mat detects that its deriving an unknown load (shorted loop, etc.).

Re:opportunities (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709844)

You could put the baby beside a phone or camera which requests power, but even then its only five watts which is not going to do any damage.

Re:opportunities (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709944)

Depending on the circumstances 5 watts is more than enough [allaboutcircuits.com] to kill someone.

Social Manipulation (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30709980)

Ever notice that on TV commercials that compare the advertised brand to a "brand X" the person with the advertised brand makes smart choices and has a good time while the person using BRAND X makes dumb choices and suffers. Invariably it's a white male who uses brand X and a woman or a minority who makes the smart choice. Or if they're both women, the white woman makes the dumb choice and the minority is the smart one. Now just ask yourself, if everyone is truly equal then why is there such a deep psychological need to engineer even advertising this way? Or when the ad shows a boardroom of a corporation, it's one white woman, a few black males, a few asian women, maybe a hispanic man. Any white males shown are clearly subordinate to the boss who is in one of the "protected" categories. If everyone is truly so equal why must they work so hard to convince us that it is so? Do you guys think such blatant manipulation and social engineering is alright as long as you approve of its purpose? Do the ends justify the means? If so, why don't they openly admit they do this on purpose?

Re:opportunities (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709992)

Yeah but that ignores inductive coupling. I suppose there might be warnings for people with pacemakers around these things but they already get exposed to that much power from AC fields around big transformers, etc.

Re:opportunities (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30711134)

Right, because everybody I know spends all day in an electricity substation.

Re:opportunities (1)

JBdH (613927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710170)

How is 5 volts able to kill someone. I read the article from your link. And it states that 30V is the threshold over which somebody could get killed in very unfavorable conditions, among other the current would have to be AC 50/60 Hz. I expect this wireless mat to deliver 5 W DC.

Re:opportunities (1)

Enleth (947766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710394)

30V through skin, 5V or probably even less otherwise. There was a moron (AFAIR, a soldier in training) who killed himself using a 9V battery-powered ohmmeter by sticking the pointed probes into his thumbs, through the skin. You see, blood is an electrolyte, it conducts electricity quite nicely, and the shortest path from one hand to the other using blood as a conductor is through the heart...

Re:opportunities (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30711606)

This is an urban legend, btw. Usually it's a Navy sailor in the tale.

Re:opportunities (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710476)

5W internally can kill, but the likelihood of accidentally generating 5W internally from a 5W induction mat is below negligible. Keep in mind they use much more powerful induction mats (aka induction stoves) at chain restaurants like Boston Pizza, where the intelligence of the cooks can rival infants.

Re:opportunities (3, Funny)

arielCo (995647) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710028)

You could put the baby beside a phone or camera

No damage to the baby, but that phone/camera is toast as soon as you turn your head :)

Re:opportunities (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710184)

LOL, and true.

Re:opportunities (2, Funny)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710178)

Do babies come with Induction coils?

Quote TFA:
"The standard is for a technology called magnetic induction, in which power is transferred between metal coils built into the device and the charging mat when they are placed close to each other. "

Its just a magnetic field folks.

Re:opportunities (3, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710294)

Do babies come with Induction coils?

A few [wikipedia.org] .

A guy I worked with his son had broken the antenna on his implant in the playground at school. They could get it working by squeezing his head in just the right way to close the break in the antenna wire.

Re:opportunities (1)

KIRBY1986 (1717416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30711240)

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Saving power (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709774)

Charging mats will recognize when a device is fully charged and then consume a trickle of energy in standby mode

Okay thats interesting. We all use wireless (inductive) power in other places and while, yeah, the cheap plugpack segment is mostly switchmode now I wonder if there are places where the efficency of transformers could be improved with a digital back channel which says send me this much power.

Re:Saving power (2, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709868)

while, yeah, the cheap plugpack segment is mostly switchmode now I wonder if there are places where the efficency of transformers could be improved

How about they improve the power supplies first? It's bad enough that there are all these cheap crappy switch-mode power supplies splattering harmonics of their switching frequency up and down the RF spectrum, but now they want to design them to radiate *more*?

Correction (1)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709790)

toss their gadgets onto a mat to recharge and forget about them

Great, another place where my phone can be stolen.

Re:Correction (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709798)

Its just where you normally charge the phone, except you don't have to plug it in.

Re:Correction (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710426)

No fucking shit, Sherlock?

Re:Correction (2)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709962)

Number of times phone stolen from bedside table: 0
Number of times phone stolen from office desk: 0

Re:Correction (1)

PIBM (588930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710012)

And what's the number of times your phone has been stolen at all ?

Re:Correction (2, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710196)

Times cell phone has been stolen at all: 0
 
Seriously, it lives in your pocket, or on your belt. How many times have you had your wallet stolen? Maybe you have an issue with keeping track of your personal belongings. I've never heard of any of my friends (mostly BB and iPhone users, fairly desirable phones, unlockable and use SIM cards) with stolen phones. Usually it's death by toilet, sidewalk or frustration (wall).

Not going to happen... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709804)

We've tried doing this with physical plugs to no avail, even if one half conforms to a standard there will always be a few very popular device manufacturers -cough- Apple -cough- who will break the trend and inconvenience a large amount of users.

Re:Not going to happen... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709810)

-cough- USB -cough-

Re:Not going to happen... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709842)

Apple uses cables that happen to have a USB plug on one side.

Re:Not going to happen... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709852)

Yeah different physical interfaces but that can't be an issue in this case.

Re:Not going to happen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710282)

still have to have a special cable, doesnt matter that the source is originally via usb

Re:Not going to happen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30709862)

-cough- Bluetooth -cough-

Re:Not going to happen... (1)

xyph0r (1153429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709826)

Furthermore, if it's just a mat with no physical contact needed between the erm... contacts, slight differences in standards could cause major, battery-exploding issues.

Re:Not going to happen... (3, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710092)

No problem! We'll just have an adaptor/receiver that you plug into your old adaptor. This will receive wireless power, convert it back to 120/240V AC, then power your old wired adaptor.

Re:Not going to happen... (1)

podwich (766178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710356)

So let me get this straight. We'll plug the adapter for the wireless power mat into the wall, then convert to wireless power, then convert back into wired power, then plug the old adapter into the wireless to wired power adapter, then plug the (phone, computer, whatever) into the mess? Hmm. That's Rube Goldbergish.

Copy of the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30709832)

The group developing a standard for wireless charging expects to complete its first specification within six months, opening
      the door for makers of cell phones, digital cameras and other devices to bring compatible products to market.

Wireless charging lets consumers place gadgets on a mat that plugs into a wall outlet, and have the devices recharge automatically
      without needing to plug in each one. Apart from the gee-whiz factor, it's supposed to make life more convenient by letting
      people walk into their home or office, toss their gadgets onto a mat to recharge and forget about them.

There are still questions about when standardized products will come to market and how they'll be received, but the Wireless
      Power Consortium aims to finish its first standard before the middle of the year, said Menno Treffers, a Philips executive
      who is chairman of the consortium. If it's not ready by then, "I will eat my hat," he told a group of vendors at the Consumer
      Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Friday.

The consortium has 27 members [wirelesspo...ortium.com] including Nokia, Research In Motion, Philips, Sanyo, Samsung Electronics, Energizer and Hewlett-Packard, as well as component
      and wireless-power technology companies such as Texas Instruments and Fulton Innovation.

The standard is for a technology called magnetic induction, in which power is transferred between metal coils built into the
      device and the charging mat when they are placed close to each other. The standard is for delivering up to 5 watts of power,
      which covers most smaller devices. A further standard will be needed for laptops and larger products. "We want to start on
      that as soon as possible, but for now we don't want to dilute our engineering efforts," Treffers said.

Consumers will know which products are compliant because they'll carry the consortium's "Qi" logo [wirelesspo...ortium.com] (pronounced "chee" after the Chinese for life force). Initial products are likely to come bundled with a small charging mat
      of their own, but if the technology takes off other companies are likely to sell mats that can charge multiple devices at
      once.

Several wireless power products are already in the market, including a Nintendo accessory from Energizer for recharging Wii
      game controllers, a Dell Latitude Z business laptop that can be recharged by placing it on a stand, and products from Powermat
      for charging phones and other devices. Bosch has shown power tools that are recharged by laying them on a workshelf.

But a standard is seen as important to wider adoption because it ensures that devices will interoperate. Until it arrives,
      some vendors won't release any further products. "We're done for now until the standard is complete," said Serge Traylor,
      brand manager for charging and rechargeable systems with Energizer. When the standard is done, Energizer will release a mat
      for charging as many as two devices, for about $100, and charging sleeves for iPhone and Blackberry devices, for $30 to $40,
      he said.

The standardization effort faces several challenges, though. Powermat, one of the leading wireless power companies, has not
      joined the consortium and is selling products using its own technology, which Treffers acknowledged could create confusion
      in the market.

Some of the most popular gadget makers also are not on board, including Apple. "I have not heard from them," Treffers said.

He admitted also that the public may have concerns about safety, although vendors insist any concerns are unfounded, and there
      have been no big problems reported with products on the market. The consortium hopes regulators will classify the products
      as "home appliances" and vouch for their safety.

The consortium also needs to establish testing bodies to certify products as standards-compliant, and it's not prepared to
      say yet when the first qualifying products will appear.

Companies seem keen to get products out quickly, however. Those selling charging units today say they charge as quickly as
      plugging devices into a wall outlet. There is some loss in the system, however, and the technology being standardized is only
      about 70 percent efficient, Treffers said, meaning it is not a particularly green way to charge devices.

"We're not selling this as a solution to global warming," he said, "it will appeal to consumers because it is magical." The
      standard will conform to regulatory requirements for efficiency, however, and the group will try to get it approved under
      Energy Star guidelines. He added that manufacturers can make their products more energy-efficient with additional technology
      investments.

Charging mats will recognize when a device is fully charged and then consume a trickle of energy in standby mode, Treffers
      said. "We have demonstrated standby power in the micro-watt range," he said, displaying a slide that showed standby consumption
      of 0.0001 watts. The coils can be made small enough to fit inside a Bluetooth headset.

Treffers was involved in the standards-setting process for Blu-ray, which took several years to complete. He said he learned
      lessons from that experience and is determined the wireless power effort will go more smoothly.

"If we get the standard done, that will give [wireless power] the most market appeal," he said. "Otherwise it will be something
      that's nice for geeks and users with specialized needs."

Qi? WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30709856)

From TFA:
"Consumers will know which products are compliant because they'll carry the consortium's "Qi" logo (pronounced "chee" after the Chinese for life force). Initial products are likely to come bundled with a small charging mat of their own, but if the technology takes off other companies are likely to sell mats that can charge multiple devices at once."

Why do they have to keep using 2 letter acronyms for everything? These days two people discussing technology sound like a couple of idiots:
Do you have a Qi Wii?
No, but I got myself a Qi WiFi WiDi.

Re:Qi? WTF (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709956)

Consumers will know which products are compliant because they'll carry the consortium's "Qi" logo (pronounced "chee" after the Chinese for life force).

Or maybe it'll be the char (U+6C7D) pronounced "qi4", meaning "vapor, gas, steam". ;-)

One online dictionary has 106 Chinese characters pronounced "qi" in Mandarin, with all of the possible tones. Their logo is just a stylized form of the two letters "qi", it could mean any of them. So we could make a lot of jokes about the true meaning of their use of this Chinese syllable.

Re:Qi? WTF (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710252)

The character for "vapor, gas, steam" is the character they are referring to. The life force used in traditional Chinese medicine is another meaning for that same character.

Re:Qi? WTF (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 4 years ago | (#30711228)

Hmmm ... I'd think that most techies would immediately think "vaporware".

In English, this doesn't work too well as a metaphor for "life force" (whatever that may be). We get our life force by ingesting "lesser" life forms that supply us with the carbohydrates, amino acids, plus the trace minerals and vitamins that we need to maintain our vitality. We do need oxygen, but we don't usually call it "vapor".

Maybe they really meant the logo to refer to vaporware. Ya think?

Actually, I was assuming they meant the U+6C14 character, which is the right (phonetic) component of the U+6C7D char that I mentioned. It's also qi4, but it has a wider range of meanings. Not surprising as it's standard radical #84, and they're usually vague, general things. "Vital breath" is among the basic meanings, along with "smell", "weather", and "to get/make angry".

There are also qi2 chars that mean "water chestnut", "green frog" and "piebald horse"; I was sorta hoping that they meant one of those. ;-)

There's a lot of silliness in the attempts to borrow Chinese words without actually learning anything about how the language works. And Mandarin has so many homonyms to have fun with, especially if you drop the tones ...

Re:Qi? WTF (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710066)

Why do they have to keep using 2 letter acronyms for everything?

How about you learn what an acronym is. First and foremost it is an abbreviation. If you can't expand it, it's not an abbreviation, and thus not a pronounceable abbreviation: it's just a short trademark.

Strange limitation (3, Informative)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709860)

The article mentions "The standard is for delivering up to 5 watts of power, which covers most smaller devices. "

This sounds like a pretty low limit to me. My iPhone charger delivers 5 watts and it takes hours before it's charged. Now imagine you buy one of those matts and your family or colleagues throw their phones on the matt as well. At the end of the day, they might not even be charged!

Re:Strange limitation (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709898)

If you just keep the phone on the mat it will rarely take hours to charge.

Re:Strange limitation (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710460)

How so? Is 5 watts through the mat somehow more than 5 watts through a cable?

Re:Strange limitation (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710500)

Because it will charge whenever you put it down, as opposed to whenever you plug it in.

Re:Strange limitation (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30711192)

I think cerberusss is plugging it in, because otherwise it wouldn't take hours - it owuld take infinity.

A Modest Proposal (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710856)

That sounds awfully inconvenient if you're trying to take a call. Perhaps instead of having one large mat that all the phones have to lie on top of, you could split it up into smaller inductors, put a layer of velco on each, and wire them to extend up to 3 feet from the central hub. Your cell, of course, would have a corresponding velcro patch, and if you needed to make a call, you just pick it up and call, without having to worry about running out of power on a quarter-charge.

I think we could call it a "tetherphone."

Re:Strange limitation (3, Informative)

KazW (1136177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709964)

The article mentions "The standard is for delivering up to 5 watts of power, which covers most smaller devices. "

This sounds like a pretty low limit to me. My iPhone charger delivers 5 watts and it takes hours before it's charged. Now imagine you buy one of those matts and your family or colleagues throw their phones on the matt as well. At the end of the day, they might not even be charged!

I'm not sure how you missed this sentence, but this makes it pretty clear to me.

Initial products are likely to come bundled with a small charging mat of their own, but if the technology takes off other companies are likely to sell mats that can charge multiple devices at once.

Re:Strange limitation (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710164)

The trouble is that these devices use exactly the same principles as radio transmitters do - if you increase the power then you start screwing up radio broadcasts at whatever frequency it is you are using to transmit the power - not good.

Re:Strange limitation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710502)

What if we turn the power setting to 11?

Pointless (4, Insightful)

Samy Merchi (1297447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709894)

I don't really see the point. As long as you have to put the device in a specific location anyway, I don't see that it's much of an improvement over having to connect it with your charger. You have to connect it with a location just the same, with this new tech, just the plug is different (a pad vs a plug).

Wake me when you have a tech that charges my mobile from the moment I step in my home door and leave my mobile in my jacket pocket hanging in the foyer.

Until that use case can be satisfied, I think this is just the same-old, same-old.

Re:Pointless (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709924)

My wife and I tend to drop our phones in standard places in the house, then plug them in at night. This way the phones will charge when they are put down.

Re:Pointless (1)

Phybersyk0 (513618) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709946)

Have you seriously gotten so lazy that you can't even SET SOMETHING DOWN?

Re:Pointless (2, Insightful)

Samy Merchi (1297447) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710074)

It's not about laziness. If it was about laziness, I'd jump on the new tech because it saves me the "arduous" step of *plugging in* (gasp). Instead I'm planning on staying with the far more demanding step of actually plugging in.

It's about forgetfulness. As I grow older and more senile, I plain and simple don't *remember* to put my devices at their designated charging locations every single night. If there was a tech that charged my devices no matter where I left them inside the confines of my house, that would something that would produce a useful value add for me.

Eliminating the plugging in phase does not produce a useful value add because I'm not so lazy that plugging in is some huge obstacle.

Re:Pointless (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710290)

Encouraging you to put your phone in the same place every night is a feature, especially for you if you are forgetful. If you could leave your phone anywhere in your house to charge, what are the odds of you remembering where you put it?

Re:Pointless (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710636)

First place to look is the refrigerator. Probably find his glasses and dentures there, too.

Re:Pointless (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710320)

or you could get a butler

Re:Pointless (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710418)

There's an app for that.

Re:Pointless (4, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709994)

as someone who builds (diy) and also fixes commercial gear, let me splain one thing to you.

the jacks are pure shit and they fail in very short times if they see any use at all. most plugs have minimal strain relief and there is NONE at the socket side of things.

if you go socketless, you have one less thing on the (mp3, phone, etc) to break on its main board.

of course, you still have the line-out (etc) to worry about breaking, but repeated chargings on cheap connectors (they ALl are cheap chinese connectors) isn't ever a good thing. removing them is a good thing.

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710122)

I wonder why almost nobody else noticed this? Or maybe they buy new products before the connectors fail. As one who's had two USB connectors fail from overuse, I think this is potentially good for devices that don't need to transmit data.

Re:Pointless (1)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710002)

The plug is absent, saving you the 'plug in' step that comes before the 'place on surface' step.

remotes, shaves, toothbrushes, cordless phones, &a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710058)

I don't really see the point. As long as you have to put the device in a specific location anyway, I don't see that it's much of an improvement over having to connect it with your charger. You have to connect it with a location just the same, with this new tech, just the plug is different (a pad vs a plug).

Putting it in a specific location is good because you know where your device is (next to your wallet and keys). You're also assuming you'll only have one pad.

Have a small pad on your night stand (perhaps incorporated into an alarm clock) to charge your cell phone overnight (if you're on-call and need quick access for 3 AM). Quartz watches can start having rechargeable batteries. If you pick up your device(s) when you leave in the morning, and place them down when you come in the evening, you'll have used the device between 8-12 hours. Then you can leave it there overnight for 12-16 hours worth of charging if you don't go out for the evening.

Have a similar pad in your car to charge your devices. Another at work, perhaps integrated in a desk lamp or as part of the base of an LCD monitor.

In the bathroom have a similar pad for recharging cordless shavers and toothbrushes. Have one for the remote control(s) and your cordless phone. Also the wireless remote control for console games, and pads for Bluetooth or RF mice.

Also 5W is simply the beginning. Nothing says later revisions won't be able to go higher.

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710060)

Amazing new technology! ;-)
My cordless toothbrushes have been using this type of charging for at least 5 years. I'm glad to see this "new" "invention" finally come to market in something other than toothbrushes. I think it was Palm who invented it last year? That said, it is faster and more convenient than having to connect a cord, plus the connectors don't break.

Free recharge :D (1)

saikou (211301) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710082)

If something like that will happen, I can imagine neighborhood teenagers suspiciously lounging about near your place. Because their newest cell phones will be recharged for free :)
Of course you can lock down "over the air" emissions by shielding that room... but it means your cell, while charging, won't be able to receive/place calls. Which would require a femtocell inside that charging room, which makes it all even more expensive.

So... please pull your gadgets out of the pocket and put them on the mat for now.
Thanks :)

Re:Free recharge :D (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710182)

It only works with direct contact, like 1mm away. No further than that.

Re:Free recharge :D (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710524)

They were talking about the GP's "leave it to charge anywhere in the house." In that case, you *would* have the potential for people to leech power from outside.

Re:Pointless (1)

EvolutionsPeak (913411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710088)

If it prevents you from putting certain other things in that spot, it may very well be even worse than a charger plug.

Re:Pointless (1)

KazW (1136177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710106)

I don't really see the point. As long as you have to put the device in a specific location anyway, I don't see that it's much of an improvement over having to connect it with your charger. You have to connect it with a location just the same, with this new tech, just the plug is different (a pad vs a plug).

Wake me when you have a tech that charges my mobile from the moment I step in my home door and leave my mobile in my jacket pocket hanging in the foyer.

Until that use case can be satisfied, I think this is just the same-old, same-old.

A couple things...

  1. 1) Why would you leave your phone in your jacket pocket anyways? The ringer would be muffled and you'd probably miss calls.
  2. 2) There have been many times I set my phone down by the charger and either forgot to plug it in or I didn't have the plug in all the way, this would eliminate those issues.
  3. 3) This would allow me to charge multiple devices with the same mat, or just have multiple chargers in different locations in my house... I could just get multiple USB port chargers, but then I have to move the cables around and in doing so I might misplace a cable.
  4. 4) When I spend the night out somewhere, I typically take the USB cable for my phone and borrow an unused USB port, most of the time it's when I go out drinking, so I'm always paranoid about losing my USB cable. With this system I could just use my friend's charging mat, no lost cable worries.
  5. 5) Some form of security would have to be implemented in the house-wide system you mention, so someone couldn't setup up a power siphon outside your house, currently no wireless power systems I've heard of can implement this. The short range of this mat system circumvents any need for security.

All in all, this could turn out to be a great universal charging system, and I hope it works out, because this would really simplify my device charging and cable management.

Re:Pointless (2)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710128)

I don't really see the point.

Instead of twelve wires leading to twelve plugs going to a powerstrip or two before reaching the wall for a dozen devices, you have one wire going to the wall and the devices on a flat surface which may if you like be cluttered with other non-charging devices. Or you build it into your countertop or other piece of furniture so you don't even see that wire.

No, the real problem is that these devices needing charging are mobile, and continue to be mobile when used in the home. People want to keep their iPods with them to listen to their playlists while walking room-to-room and their phones so they can answer them instead of forgetting them in one room while they're in another. You'd need a pad in easy reach in every room where someone spends any amount of time motionless: coffee table, kitchen counter, bedside table, bathroom counter, back of the toilet....

A desk "blotter" that also charges the wireless keyboard and mouse, now that's useful!

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710176)

At least you won't need a gazillion different chargers anymore for every gadget around the house.

But alas. That's just wishful thinking. Of course an Apple devices will only work with Apple mats etc. Hoping otherwise is just naive.

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710528)

But alas. That's just wishful thinking. Of course an Apple devices will only work with Apple mats etc. Hoping otherwise is just naive.

I expect that Apple mats will charge vibrators, dildos, butt plugs...basically any type of electrified ass stimulation device.

Re:Pointless (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710220)

You must not go through the plug/unplug ritual much. It's a pain, cords tend to get lost, you don't have enough cords for every location, and the connectors wear out. Sure they are working on standards for wireless power that don't require a specific location but why not take advantage of what works for now? I for one am eagerly awaiting support from all the handheld devices I use frequently. I'd love to have a desk where the entire surface can charge devices and a laptop that can charge that way. I've considered getting one of the cases for my iPod Touch that charges it this way but I'd rather see a standard before I spend my money.

Re:Pointless (1)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710256)

This is better than having a million different plugs/adaptors/dongles.

I'd love to see a car outfitted with a special version of this, too.

Hotel rooms can have one, on the night stand, as a nice feature for their guests.

Any office desk could definitely benefit from one. Less wiring clutter. Only downside is no USB sync (yet).

There are plenty of uses. They're all moot unless there is an industry-wide standard, though.

Re:Pointless (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710382)

I don't really see the point. As long as you have to put the device in a specific location anyway, I don't see that it's much of an improvement over having to connect it with your charger. You have to connect it with a location just the same, with this new tech, just the plug is different (a pad vs a plug).

My wife and I have several devices (phones, MP3 players, etc) that we charge in one location and the rats nest of wires and connectors is a nightmare. Personally, I find the idea of dropping my devices on a mat and not having to figure out which connector goes with my phone or my MP3 player or my camera, quite appealing. Not to mention, I don't have to have 20 adapters in the wall, which is another bonus. I can see the mats appealing to a lot of people.

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30711434)

I dont get how people can have so many devices they need charged up on a daily basis. I have my phone, which needs charging every 2-3 days, and my iPod, which requires charging about once a week depending on how much I use it. My girlfriend also has an iPod, which she charges when mine isn't charging, and her phone. We have 3 plugs going in to our walls. What the heck are you people carrying around with you in your pockets that requires 20 adapters in the wall, that this device will make more convenient?

Perhaps if you carried around an iPod, a digital camera, a cell phone, a portable projector, a blackberry, and a beeper, this may be a great invention for you. But if you're carrying around that much stuff, you either need a purse or a batman utility belt.

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710412)

How's this for a point:
Mount the pad under your coat hooks as a wall covering -- any object contained in anything hung there charges while it sits.

It could also be stuck in desk drawers or on desktops. The trick is to make the space large enough that you don't have to be accurate in placement. I remember a couple of years ago when this tech was first announced, the problem was that the pad was only slightly larger than a cell phone, which makes these things more like coasters than desk covers. With the original tech, I thought like you do... I'm hoping they've improved things now to make the charging surfaces larger and cheaper to produce.

The other issue with wireless charging is this: how much does the charging surface consume in watt hours when there's nothing on the surface? How about when it's under load? Something tells me it's going to be nowhere near as efficient as plugging in to mains power.

Re:Pointless (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710414)

This is how it should be:

Two batteries, one in use, one always either charging or charged.
Batteries are easily swapped.
The devices have a small built-in battery or capacitor allowing for 30 seconds of idle operation without battery so reboot isn't necessary during battery swap.
The charger has many pins to accomodate a wide variety of batteries, and can auto-sense battery type and pin polarity (unless the battery has abslutely no charge, rare).

Battery chargers are easier and cheaper than robust mini power jacks and on-board charging circuitry. The reboot part is the main reason cameras use battery chargers and cel phones use power adapters.

Re:Pointless (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710472)

B b b b ut plugging it in is too hard!

Rugged, more sturdy devices (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710714)

It will be much easier to make a device more rugged (also mobile phones looking otherwise quite stylish; check Nokia 3720 classic) if it doesn't need to have any plugs.

This for power, Bluetooth/etc. for connectivity.

No, there's a very important point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30711024)

The reason for this is because wireless induction charging is a lossy process. It cannot be made as efficient as wired charging. There's some basic physical realities that must be observed.

There are a great many people in this world who are ardent believers in "The Tragedy of the Commons" and "social darwinism" and "Devil take the hindmost is good for the species" to quote a few favorite chestnuts.

These people do not like the idea that you can get food, air and water without paying for it. They believe that only the hereditary aristocracy, who have been selected by capitalism itself, should ever get anything without laboring for it. Therefore, pollution is good since it makes free air and water a thing of the past; you will buy your air and water from the air and water markets, or you will die and make room for a stronger man.

Y'all think I'm raving, or that I'm trolling, or whatever you want. I have been in the room with Reaganista millionaires who have been quite frank about their objectives. They want pollution, and they are willing to buy and sell presidents like bars of soap. They love wireless power, it wastes energy. They love war in the middle east, too - it's one of the quickest ways to pour carbon into the atmosphere, and at the same time it drives up prices at home and helps legitimize coal burning. Anything that gets them closer to total destruction of all commons is considered a win.

That's nice... (0)

nhytefall (1415959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709942)

6 months until another meaningless, vaporware standard.

Seriously, doesn't anyone quite grasp the concept that wireless = radiated signal?

Not saying anything negative, just asking why we give a shit when it will be *years* until this tech is actually in a wide-spread, usuable format?

And when I'm somewhere else? (1, Interesting)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709950)

walk into their home or office, toss their gadgets onto a mat to recharge...

And how do I charge it when I'm somewhere else?
Oh. Use a plug-in charger? Um... So, what's the point here?

How about standardizing on a USB charging interface?

Re:And when I'm somewhere else? (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710584)

Are you seriously railing against redundancy?

Besides, if it's a small, flexible mat, you can take it with you just as easily as a USB-ended charging adaptor. Maybe more easily, if it doesn't require some form of brick.

man that wifi lawsuit guys i going to be unhappy. (1)

the simurgh (1327825) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709952)

seriously he gets upset about wifi and a cellphone imagine this.

Sure to be a hit (3, Insightful)

finity (535067) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709954)

With all the /. users saying "this is going to be pointless," and "it's already easy enough as it is," this is sure to be a hit.

Re:Sure to be a hit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710090)

I agree it's quite spectacular that the /. crowd admits that "it's already easy enough as it is"

This is done already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30709958)

Wireless Charging has been invented already. A Company in Finland has done it http://www.powerkiss.com/ The invention recenlty won an award from EUWIIN http://www.euwiin.eu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=79

Re:This is done already (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709972)

Its an option for the palm pre as well.

Re:This is done already (2, Informative)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710138)

You guys do realize that there was a fellow named Tesla that did some really ground breaking work on this originally, right?

Grand prize for thedumbest technology of the... (-1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30709974)

...century?

“Hey, how about instead of creating a contact between a tiny plug of a small portable recharger, we create a contact with large mat that takes away space in your home?”
Wow, great idea!

I’ve seen many stupid pointless things in my life, but this one takes the trophy!

If anyone plans to buy this thing, please tell me where you live, so I can come by, and laugh at you. ;)
I’ll bring gifts too: Clippy and MS Bob, a pair of cuff links, a set of ten table overlays, a water-tight sun-dial, and a tricycle with four-wheel drive.

Re:Grand prize for thedumbest technology of the... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710046)

Think about the power needed to keep mobile phones loaded with applications working though the day. It would be okay if you could be stuffed plugging it into USB whenever you sat down but thats too hard. But if you can drop it on to a charging pad [phones4uaccessories.com] from time to time the battery need never go down.

How efficient is this? (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710036)

Besides seeming to be not much of big deal convenience-wise, is this a "green" technology or is it a power leach drawing power even when it's not being used. What is the ratio of input power to power actually charging a device?

Back in the late 50s, I ran a several turn loop around my bedroom and created a "Halo coil" with many turns on a set of monaural headphones so I could have cordless headphones for listening to my shortwave radio. It worked, but wasn't particularly efficient.

Re:How efficient is this? (2, Informative)

drawfour (791912) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710166)

From page 2 of the article:

There is some loss in the system, however, and the technology being standardized is only about 70 percent efficient, Treffers said, meaning it is not a particularly green way to charge devices.

Underwater photography (charging a sealed camera) (3, Interesting)

malkavian (9512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710098)

This will be a huge boon to me.. One of my hobbies is underwater photography, and as anyone who does that will testify, you always have a nervous moment when you immerse the camera and housing at the start of a dive..
This is because you have to seal the camera in a housing, sealed by a multitude of o-rings, each of which need to be cleaned and re-greased every time you open the housing. When you put the o-rings back in place, you have to look carefully for a hair, or a speck of grit or dirt, or anything that could compromise the seal in any way. If you mess up (even a single hair can cause a seal failure), you'll have a lovely view of rising water in your camera housing, and you camera will be so much junk (and you may kill the electronics in the housing too, which is expensive as well!)..
This can really put a crimp in a holiday (no more photography for you! And you did have it insured, didn't you??)..
There are really only two common reasons to crack a housing open.. To take the memory card out and back it up, and to recharge the camera/strobe batteries after a dive..
As you need to recharge after most dives, nobody's really bothered much with wireless data transmission, but if you can wirelessly recharge, it's simple to add wireless data transfer too, so you'll not have to crack the case 'till you want to change the lens (which isn't too common most of the time) or strip it for cleaning (you could probably get away with once or twice a holiday, if that).. Much safer!

curious... (1, Interesting)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710144)

How efficient are these matts? Last I heard they were only 50% efficient. Does that mean that if I leave this thing plugged in all the time, it's "waisting" energy?

Re:curious... (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710158)

The article implies a data channel from the device to the charger so the charger knows when not to deliver power.

Fear of power lines... (2, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710396)

If the public is already afraid of living near power lines (100yds away), what makes these manufacturers think that having a bunch of 'wireless power pads' is going to be any different? Or is this a case of a rabid chihuahua is no threat due to its size?

Re:Fear of power lines... (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710874)

Extreme situations like pregnant women operating poorly shielded electromagnetic PVC welders and Brazilian monkeys keeping warm by induction very close to power lines established that there is a potential problem. Unfortunately people make wild assumptions either way and assume that if they can see the power lines the EM field can get to them. I work on a block that has a 33kV line passing over, tests were made and only the top floor of the corner of the building closest to the lines had anything above what you get from the mains wiring in the walls. That's where we put the board room :)
It appears that the mechanism is induced heating of water in the body, and since EM fields drop a great deal in intensity with distance you'd have to get very close to a very strong field for that to happen. People worry anyway, and then go and sleep on electric blankets!
On the other extreme a Judge ruled that 50Hz EM radiation cannot penetrate the human skin, despite the situation where anyone that has worked with induction furnaces could tell you it gets through nearly an inch of steel!

Obvious Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710450)

Game controllers, wireless mice/keyboards/etc. A lot of obvious applications, and we'll all have to buy new stuff to use it. Yeah I'm guessing this will be popular.

could've happened sooner (1)

notnAP (846325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30710468)

... but every time they call each other, the calls go straight to voice mail, as if the phones are never turned on. weird.

magnetic media eraser? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30710918)

What will happen if a magnetic medium such as a diskette or magnetic tape is left on it? It's hard enough keeping them away from mobile phones and CRT degaussers.

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