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Wireless Power Group Has 'Qi' Prototypes

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the now-you-can-charge-in-the-bathtub dept.

Cellphones 117

judgecorp writes "Steady progress on inductive wireless charging. There are now certified prototypes of chargers for Blackberry and iPhone devices that meet the Qi specification of the Wireless Power Consortium, which was announced last year. The spec has advanced from version 0.95 to 1.0, too."

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qi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33463264)

quite interesting?

Can Nicola Tesla claim prior art? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463290)

Can Nicola Tesla claim prior art [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Can Nicola Tesla claim prior art? (2, Insightful)

Vylen (800165) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463374)

Zombie Nicola Tesla, perhaps.

Re:Can Nicola Tesla claim prior art? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465876)

If my imagination is to be trusted, a Zombie Nicola Tesla would rate pretty high in the badass department.

Re:Can Nicola Tesla claim prior art? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465920)

Can Nicola Tesla claim prior art [wikipedia.org] ?

Sure he can and I'm also sure Edison will put up obstacles all the way to the patent office. The banks might even fund this "new" invention since it still has its connection to a wall socket and meter.

If this can work with AC (1)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463300)

I see a massive influx of funny Youtube videos titled, "Hey y'all! Watch this!"

Redneck's last words... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463578)

"Hey y'all! Watch this!"*

I'm waiting for the higher power one for my netbook. But I'm more interested in this one that's coming [eweekeurope.co.uk] that will charge your stuff from two yards away. It looks like you could have cordless table lamps with that one, using LED bulbs.

* Credit for that joke -- Jeff Foxworthy

They are still sorting out cell phones (2, Interesting)

scosco62 (864264) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463322)

with respect to RF....granted, you aren't holding the charger next to your head...but how "near" is near-field when it comes to putting power through the air and the ramifications around EMI and/or health.

Re:They are still sorting out cell phones (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465950)

My view is that in about 50 years, people will look back at the proliferation of EM radiation we surround ourselves with, and just shake their heads. Remember, the shoe fitting fluoroscope [wikipedia.org] seemed like a great idea once too.

Counter-intuitive? (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463340)

Is inductive charging different from a degaussing field? I just wonder because when I have to degauss hard drives they get HOT and degaussers don't just ruin the data on the platters but also annihilate ICs and most components on the PC board leaving little to salvage.

So, it just puts me off a little bit to intentionally do something similar with my expensive electronic devices...

Re:Counter-intuitive? (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463620)

when I have to degauss hard drives they get HOT and degaussers don't just ruin the data on the platters but also annihilate ICs and most components on the PC board

You must be using a VERY high power degausser. My eight year old old Trinitron degausses every time I turn it on, but its ICs and other components don't suffer for it. I'm sure that this isn't so powerful you'll ruin your phone.

If you remove the drives before degaussing them, you won't lose the rest of the parts.

Re:Counter-intuitive? (1)

Cap'nPedro (987782) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463928)

A degausser is a 'dumb' field; it transfers energy through brute force. Wireless energy devices use 'inductive coupling' - it's much more precise, much more efficient.

Re:Counter-intuitive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33465136)

Uh, it's the same kind of field. Unless you've discovered a new force in the universe. Please refrain from posting your delusional half-misunderstandings of high school physics, reserve that for Space Nutter threads.

Efficient? Better in any way? (2, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463352)

Call me a conservative engineer... I don't care.

What's the point of this? Is it more efficient (using less electricity) than just plugging a cable into a small socket on the side of the phone? I doubt it.

It easier to use than plugging in a cable in a socket? Hardly.

Is the charger easier to replace than those standard nokia chargers that everyone has several of lying around? Doubt it.

Will it be standardized? That'd be lovely. But normal chargers should have been standardized long ago.

The only added value I see is that you can now completely waterproof a gadget.
I can see the added value for things like electric toothbrushes - those must be encased in a water proof shell. But the whole point of phones is that you replace them every 1-2 years. Making them stronger and water proof is bad business.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

ConfusedVorlon (657247) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463384)

yup - it is easier. It's really nice to use.

I have a palm pre with the touchstone charger and it is really nice to just place it on the dock where it holds magnetically in place and starts charging.

Not worldchanging - but a definite improvement.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463462)

If you have a "dock" then how is it easier? Normal docks already eliminate cables.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

ConfusedVorlon (657247) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463688)

just because it sits loosely on the base so you simply place the phone on the dock, rather than having to slot carefully into the receptor on the dock. (which essentially guides the device into the plug connector)

as I said, not a huge difference, but a nice one.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33464428)

Its actually much much easier if you use any sort of nice case for any of your gadgets, which more often then not require you to remove the device from the case to insert into dock.

"The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464760)

just because it sits loosely on the base so you simply place the phone on the dock, rather than having to slot carefully into the receptor on the dock. (which essentially guides the device into the plug connector)

as I said, not a huge difference, but a nice one.

And ironically, it DOES help standardize the docking. Since you fit your phone with a special adapter, it can be performed on almost any phone.

With docks, each phone has it's own special dock, so if you have 6-7 devices (high estimate) you need 6-7 docks, each with their own cable, and each not terribly secured to the table they are on.

With this, you could modify each phone, and then swap them in and out of the same 'charger'.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

Geeky (90998) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464960)

If you have a "dock" then how is it easier? Normal docks already eliminate cables.

The Pre does not have a normal dock as such - the only other option is to plug the cable in to a connector hidden behind a rotating plastic flap. If used as often as you need to charge a smartphone (i.e. almost every day), I doubt the plastic flap would last all that long before it snapped off.

Using the touchstone dock removes that problem (admittedly a design flaw in the pre in the first place...)

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463390)

The only added value I see is that you can now completely waterproof a gadget.

I can see the added value for things like electric toothbrushes

My electric toothbrush is already completely waterproof and it's about ten years old (changeable heads).

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463664)

The only added value I see is that you can now completely waterproof a gadget.

I can see the added value for things like electric toothbrushes

My electric toothbrush is already completely waterproof and it's about ten years old (changeable heads).

Yeah but the secondary coil (in the brush) encloses the primary coil (in the stand) which is more efficient that a flat pad. Also the duty cycle of a toothbrush is exactly the opposite of a phone. The phone may have to charge quickly for a day of heavy use.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463848)

But that's a regular transformer. Qi is as far as I can tell a resonant transformer [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463430)

Making them stronger and water proof is bad business.

Call me a conservative engineer but making something intentionally fragile in order to sell more replacement is bad engineering. Demand should be driven by constant innovation, not planned ageing.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463546)

Making them stronger and water proof is bad business.

Call me a conservative engineer but making something intentionally fragile in order to sell more replacement is bad engineering. Demand should be driven by constant innovation, not planned ageing.

That was a sarcastic remark from my side - and planned aging is why electronics things still break down. There are plenty examples of devices that nowadays break down faster than in the past. Good for the economy, but useless nonetheless.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465468)

There are plenty examples of devices that nowadays break down faster than in the past. Good for the economy, but useless nonetheless.

Not good for the economy. Broken window fallacy. If the money spent on replacement electronics were spent on other things instead, we'd be much better off.

Especially considering that little of the cash spent on electronics stimulates the local economy -- it stimulates the local economies in China, Indonesia, etc., where the products are made.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465546)

There are plenty examples of devices that nowadays break down faster than in the past. Good for the economy, but useless nonetheless.

That's the broken window fallacy. Building products that are unreliable is not good for the economy as a whole. At best it may be good for the person making the product (depending on how discerning their customers are).

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (4, Informative)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463432)

...
I can see the added value for things like electric toothbrushes - those must be encased in a water proof shell. But the whole point of phones is that you replace them every 1-2 years. Making them stronger and water proof is bad business.

actually there is no reason not to do contact based charging with a water proof object just make the exposed metal contacts out of a non corrosive metal - gold plating is best, chrome plating works for low voltage/current - solid nickel works really well.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (2, Insightful)

needs2bfree (1256494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463566)

Is there a currency drain through those contacts when immersed in water with high salinity or other contaminants?

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

needs2bfree (1256494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463596)

*current. Proofread fail

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

BassMan449 (1356143) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463628)

May I ask why you are charging your phone underwater? I think the idea was to be wirelessly chargeable and waterproof, not exactly to do both at the same time.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

needs2bfree (1256494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463696)

I was thinking that when in use, there would be a discharge through the contacts through the water. For example, if you drop your electric toothbrush in a full sink. I'm somewhat ignorant on electrical engineering, maybe there is an easy way to prevent this?

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (2, Informative)

rthille (8526) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463934)

No, diodes can make it so electricity can only "come in" to the device, not leave it.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465246)

Silicon diodes have a voltage drop of about 0.7 V. Most Nokias seem to charge at 3.7 V, so the power loss due to one diode is pretty significant.

Solid Nickel (2, Funny)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463888)

please note some people are allergic to Nickel, and the right side of their face turns fancy colours when they use cheap phones that have Ni in the "metallic" shiny buttons.

Re:Solid Nickel (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464142)

do tell me why you would be placing charing contacts on your face?

I understand some people can be allergic to Nickel but also some are allergic to gold - and silver.

for the large part people aren't allergic to nickel - and it is a very good an relatively cheap noncorrosive metal (when solid - the plating never lasts).

but you know.. manufactures already know this - they also know that ALL computer interconnects should be gold plated and the reasons why.. yet we still see plenty of them that are exposed Tin or other crap metals.. and the only reasons they don't do it right is
A) it's cheaper to cut corners with products you don't have to support for any decent amount of time
B) you sell more products over a given time as people replace them because they think they have failed (when in reality the contacts just need to be cleaned)

sorry just my personal beef with electronics manufactures. If your not going to gold plate it and it isn't suitable to chrome plate it - dammit make it out of nickel..

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464114)

The big point with waterproof items is if you pierce the membrane, you have another potential entry point for water. Unless you have a major inefficiency problem with inductive charging, you're better off without the holes.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464494)

while i agree with that - it's splitting hairs.. unless you have a device Completely removed of the outside world and completely encapsulated then it can't be waterproof as as you have to pierce the membrane for something.

If you make the charging contacts part of the membrane and make them withstand the environment they are to function in - then there is no reason why you should need inductive charging.

I'm not against inductive charging - it makes a lot of sense for things that normally would have some type of battery or power run to them but are not easy to service (pace maker - inner ear hearing aids) Sensors inside sealed vessels. I just don't see the point for things that fit the profile of most consumer devices - it adds an extra cost and increases the possible points of failure for really no reason other than to say "look what i can do".

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464860)

If you make the charging contacts part of the membrane and make them withstand the environment they are to function in - then there is no reason why you should need inductive charging.

Ignoring your big IF for a moment: That will have an effect on the aesthetics(not always minor). They require the ability to maintain contact and quite often with docks, require a specific alignment/configuration. If using docks, each one must be tailored to the device which will dock in it, therefore you will likely require a separate dock for each device you own. Inductive charging allows for a single charging point to support an unlimited number of device shapes.

The big IF: Contacts require sealing if you are talking about crossing the membrane. That means seals or some type of welding of the membrane to the contact body or frame. Increased complexity.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#33466098)

But we need holes for our speaker, our microphone, our swappable SIM card, our swappable microSD card, our USB port, our headphones, etc. (No, bluetooth doesn't cover the last two - it's shit.)

And if something breaks, we need to open the device and be able to repair it.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463442)

The benefit is just ease. Don't fumble with cables or getting your phone aligned properly in a dock... just throw it on the mat and you're done.

Wouldn't mind getting an inductive charger for my HTC Desire - any suggestions?

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (2, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463456)

What's the efficiency of these? The last thing the world needs right now is another way to waste energy.

Still ... if it's expensive enough and leads to standardization it might mean less overall waste then having dozens of chargers for everything.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (5, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463502)

The electricity most people use for small electronics pales in comparison to the energy they use for heating and cooling.

The public awareness programs trying to get people to unplug chargers are ridiculous, that money should be spent trying to convince them to move their thermostat 1/2 degree or add insulation.

And please note that I'm not saying that it won't have any impact, I'm saying that the impact it has is so much smaller than other things that it is currently a wasted effort.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463634)

The electricity most people use for small electronics pales in comparison to the energy they use for heating and cooling.

Doesn't mean its okay to splash the stuff around now.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463842)

For a handheld device with a huge battery, these things are maybe going to waste 3 or 4 kilowatt-hours per year. A modest central air system consumes that it a few hours (assuming it is cycling properly). A Prius is going to consume the equivalent in about 6 miles of driving.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (3, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465138)

Doesn't mean its okay to splash the stuff around now.

Actually it might. It is cost prohibitive (and quality of life prohibitive) to attempt to live in a 100% efficient manner. There will always be boundaries in which there is flexibility.

Heating and cooling are orders of magnitude greater than pocket electronics in terms of power consumption. To put it bluntly, you would need to charge your cell phone 300-400 times in order to match running your Air Conditioner for 1 hour.

I'd say that gives cell phones some wiggle room in the charging efficiency category. The reason why cell phones require so little power is by virtue of the fact that they are designed to be portable, and available for the entire day (or days). Televisions, DVD players, and game consoles which COULD benefit from more power efficiency (in terms of 'green') don't do so because they currently don't need to.

As a result, worrying about cell phones is just, pardon the pun, wasted energy. Their efficiency puts them so low on the energy impact scale that I probably wasted more energy typing up this post on a regular computer than my cell phone consumed playing back music at the same time.

Cell phones have a natural check to energy wastefullness that other electronic products do not have. That check is that they MUST be portable, and therefore efficiency is ALWAYS a high concern of the designers. This means that they will likely always at the bottom of any list of household power consumers. Even if the chargers become less efficient, the cell phone itself will not really require enough power to make us worry about it.

The 'waste' you are worried about is like worrying about waste energy when you walk out your front door and the AC is running. Yes, there is loss, but with respect to things we can actually worry about without impacting our quality of life, it is inconsequential.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (3, Insightful)

natoochtoniket (763630) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464190)

It's not really about efficiency or financial savings. It's about consumer psychology. Of course, the big items have the big potential gains. But, big items cost big money to change. People don't spend big money until they know and understand the benefit. Little things have smaller potential gains,but can be implemented for little or no money. A PR campaign for a little thing educates the consumers about the issue, without threatening the consumers emotionally by telling them to spend a lot of money. Power adapters and light bulbs are the two major examples of such campaigns.

Getting people to change a light bulb is a little thing. It costs just a couple bucks, and takes just a few minutes. And, old light bulbs need to be replaced when they fail, anyway. The savings to one consumer by changing one light bulb is only a few bucks. But there is a big savings, both environmentally and economically, when you multiply by the number of light bulbs i the nation and the hours that they are normally operated.

Power adapters cost a little more to replace with high-efficiency units, but can be unplugged easily and for not cost. The campaign to get people to unplug power adapters isn't really going to save much power, because the newer units really don't use much power, and older units get replaced anyway whenever the phone gets replaced. The savings from 'unplugging' is also smaller because it takes labor, so most people just won't do it. So, there really isn't much actual power savings available. But, because "unplugging" is free, it is a non-threatening way to achieve some consumer education.

The biggest effect is that it gets consumers to think about the power that they use in their houses. After a consumer understands the potential savings, they become more willing to spend some capital to get more of those savings.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464538)

So you think the government should be engaged in overt manipulation of the people?

There is something to be said for operating in as direct and honest a manner as possible.

(Personally I've had a mediocre experience with CFLs, a couple of them have died in months, and the $2-3 they cost is a lot more than an incandescent would cost, but worth a lot less than the dicking around it would take to actually get warranty service).

And if you are worried about people's emotions, offer tax incentives. Those generally make the people getting them happy (I realize that such incentives exist; part of my reasoning is that the funding for the awareness programs would have been better spent expanding them).

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

halltk1983 (855209) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465686)

I've had one CFL die on me since I swapped them all out about 4 years ago. It was the one in the room with the kids staying with me for a couple months. I suspect it was more of the usage pattern of the light being used for slow-mo dancing than the CFL. I just always buy from a respected name, instead of grabbing the cheapest one on the shelf. I try not to support the race for the bottom.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

Viriatvs (1867546) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464328)

The electricity most people use for small electronics pales in comparison to the energy they use for heating and cooling.

true

The public awareness programs trying to get people to unplug chargers are ridiculous, that money should be spent trying to convince them to move their thermostat 1/2 degree or add insulation.

And please note that I'm not saying that it won't have any impact, I'm saying that the impact it has is so much smaller than other things that it is currently a wasted effort.

Actually there is a big difference between "move their thermostat 1/2 degree or add insulation" and "unplug chargers".

The first either decreases the amount of comfort or costs money (to insulate).

The second saves you money and has a positive impact on the environment.

Also the those awareness programs have side effects:

People now know that stand-by modes in other appliances use energy, thus some of them will take that into account when shopping. Eventually even unplugging some other appliances when not in use. Because of the awareness (and some legislation) companies produce evermore energy efficient devices.

In the long term those programs are not wasted efforts.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464418)

My point is largely that unplugging chargers does not save an appreciable amount of money.

And insulation does have upfront costs, but in the cases it makes sense, it, by definition, pays for itself.

I'm not going to argue about whether 1/2 degree on the thermostat really has much impact on comfort (if it has a large impact, it is a good sign the building needs more insulation!).

I'm also not going to have an assertion battle over whether the awareness programs make any sense, but I will mention that I find the paternalistic attitude about gradual education of the nearly blind sheeple to be quite tiresome.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 4 years ago | (#33466462)

Actually there is a big difference between "move their thermostat 1/2 degree or add insulation" and "unplug chargers".

The first either decreases the amount of comfort or costs money (to insulate).

The second saves you money and has a positive impact on the environment.

And reaching behind my dresser every day to unplug my cell phone charger doesn't have an effect on my comfort? I'd say that the convenience of placing the phone on a charging mat every night rather than plugging it in and plugging in the charger has much less effect on my comfort than turning down my thermostat a tiny amount.

You're implying that turning down the thermostat or adding insulation doesn't save me money or have a positive impact on the environment, yet in truth it likely saves you more money and has a bigger positive effect on the environment than unplugging a cell phone charger. Especially given that a modern EnergyStar rated charger uses less than 0.5 watts in standby mode. That's 4KwH/year -- less then 50 cents worth of electricity for most people. I'll pay the 50 cents for the convenience of not having to plug my charger into the wall every time I plug in my phone.

(note that some people will say "Use a power strip with a switch, then you can just turn it on and off", but to that, I say that a large amount of energy goes into making a power strip - steel, plastic, copper all take energy to refine and shape - my guess is that switching off a 0.5 watt load when I'm not using it will never recoup the energy that went into making the power strip).

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#33466634)

1/2 a degree is not human noticeable, and insulation can be done with tax funded money or low cost loans.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33464336)

Has anybody looked up the chain a bit when figuring the HUUUGE efficiency losses? If it's easier to charge your phone (drop it by the door), then people will charge more often. When you don't run the battery down flat, it lasts longer. You don't have to go and buy a new battery/phone+contract, which has a certain energy cost (plus rare metals (shouts out to TA!)).

Also, more frequent charging means you could just put in a smaller battery, again with the metals savings. If you have a charging cup holder in your car, the phone will spend 75% of its life on charge. At that rate, it could just use a supercapacitor.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464678)

The electricity most people use for small electronics pales in comparison to the energy they use for heating and cooling.

The public awareness programs trying to get people to unplug chargers are ridiculous, that money should be spent trying to convince them to move their thermostat 1/2 degree or add insulation.

And please note that I'm not saying that it won't have any impact, I'm saying that the impact it has is so much smaller than other things that it is currently a wasted effort.

Yes! Thank you for making that point -- people don't think about sense of scale when they implement energy savings. (and of course, in cold climates, energy efficiency of appliances inside the home doesn't matter, since that inefficiency is dissipated as heat and goes toward heating your house)

They'll spend hundreds of $$ replacing chargers and installing smart power strips to save 5 watts of standby power, but they won't make capital improvements like additional insulation that may only cost $20/month amortized over 10 years and that can save real dollars in heating/cooling costs.

Or the guy with a 30mpg car will sell it and spend many thousands of dollars upgrading to a 40mpg hybrid and thinks he's saving the world, but the guy who upgrades his 15mpg car to a 20mpg car is actually saving twice as much gas per mile.

Granted, every little bit helps, but some bits help more than others.

Just more convenient (3, Insightful)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463468)

I'd think the main advantage would be one of convenience - come home, drop cellphone on charging pad. When leaving, just pick up cellphone from charging pad. No fiddling with small power plugs or figuring out which adapter/plug goes into which device, and (if some sort of compatibility is maintained between these devices): drop multiple devices on the same (larger) charging pad.

Of course some losses would be associated with inductive charging, but unless very significant I doubt that's a problem for low power devices like cellphones.

Re:Just more convenient (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463648)

It doesn't say so in the article but are these things going to be completely standard for all devices? (presumably sold separately...)

If not then it's going to make things an awful lot worse.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463568)

But normal chargers should have been standardized long ago

Coulda, shoulda, woulda. The fact is that they're not. With this is place you'd finally have the standard you've been looking for.

Not to mention that with this in place you're going to have a lot more charging options. Hotel rooms, offices and cruise ships will doubtlessly have these so that you're not having to plug in your charger which means that you won't have to worry about lugging 4 different chargers and then have to find 4 available outlets for them.

Be a naysayer but if this ever does take off it's going to be a boost for the way we use mobile devices since we will have more charging options with less hassles. I'd buy it, that's for sure.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (2, Informative)

ConfusedVorlon (657247) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463652)

well - they pretty much are now.

the EU threatened the phone companies with compulsory standardisation if they didn't play nice, so they all agreed to standardise on usb chargers.

ok, so there are a bunch of USB plug formats, and yes Apple exempted themselves, but nonetheless we are pretty close to a standard charger now.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463830)

What about non-cellular devices? What if manufacturers would also start supporting laptops with this technology? There is a lot of opportunity here. It's time for something of this nature to come about. The wireless aspect of it is a bonus to the universal charging station.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464026)

Still a pain in the ass though. A power mat would be great, I'd be able to just have one cable trailing around next to my bed instead of 4..

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464100)

On the bunch of plugs point, I think the agreed standard was micro-USB [wikipedia.org] , rather than just USB in general, so theoretically I never need to buy another phone charger for the foreseeable future, and hopefully this will roll out across the various other devices I infrequently have to use (and dig out archaic chargers for).

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463670)

The only added value I see is that you can now completely waterproof a gadget.

I already can, and do.

Several years ago I saw George Thorogood at an outdoor concert at the Illinois State Fair. A huge thunderstorm rolled in right before his last song, and he stood there on stage in the pouring rain playing that electric guitar*; great concert. Except I got soaked to the skin walking to the bus, and my phone never worked again.

From then on I carry a ziplick baggie in my pocket. So now my phone actually is waterproof -- at least when I need it to be.

* This would have been impossible twenty years or so ago before they had the low power transmitters for instruments and microphones. Back then, musicians sometimes were electrocuted when something would short out.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463940)

It easier to use than plugging in a cable in a socket? Hardly.

Hardly? More like supremely. It would be great to have my phone, console controllers, netbook etc all be able to charge off the same charger, ie have it built into my coffee table rather than have to always be hooking up messy cables all over the place every time I want to charge something.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463954)

Normal chargers are in theory meant to be standardised [bbc.co.uk] now, although manufacturers have until 2012 to actually implement this across the board. I think you're right in that this isn't really solving a problem that exists or needs to be solved, however I think it'll sell because a) people like to show off new gadgets and despite there being no real need for this, you have to admit it's kind of cool and b) people are incredibly lazy and if this means they don't have to remember to plug their phone in to charge they'll go for it (especially with more power hungry smartphones being as popular as they are right now).

Advantages (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463960)

I can see a few things that would be an advantage.
- One you've already mentioned, that this would hopefully constitute a "global standard" so that any device that wants to charge wireless would have to support it, and to heck with the Apple/Sony/Samsung type companies that seem to want to use their own proprietary connector

- Being universal-like, these could be incorporated into all sorts of different places or items. I could have a pad on my desk at work that I drop either my personal or work phone, mp3 player, whatever for charging. They could have them in hotels, or as a little slot in cars (as long as it's wide enough for the phone, it doesn't have to consider other things like the location of the damn jack on the phone, etc). Wouldn't it be nice just to drop your stuff on the nightstand at the hotel and it *works*?

- No more damaged connectors. I know a lot of people who have had the connector(s) on their phone/device wear out, cords break, etc. The newer micro-USB or WTF it's called seems especially fragile, and I cringe when plugging in cords for those.

- A "dock" could become rather universal. Wireless charging, and bluetooth for data synchronization, or media streaming (especially BT3.x, which I believe does video as well as the BT2.x AD2P audio).

- Charging in-case. I've seen a variety of nice cases I'd like to use for my phone, however most wouldn't allow it to charge in the dock because they've a bit bulky, and it's a PITA to remove it constantly and wears out the case faster. Induction/wireless charging = no problem there as long as it can penetrate the case.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464218)

I'm hoping this makes it to something like a cup that i simply drop my phone into. or better yet, a bowl that i can plop all my gadgets into at once. say something like a 8" diameter that my cell could be plopped into, along with the ipod, and the rest of my portable electroncis.

Better if it has a bluetooth or simmilar interface so that the devices can negotiate for best power use, and the charging pad can turn"off" when there are no devices that need to be recharged.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464728)

It easier to use than plugging in a cable in a socket? Hardly.

It is easier when your socket is behind the breakfront.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33465502)

You park your electric car in the garage --> no need to plug it in.
Your mobile charges the minute you walk into the door
Your TV set can stand on the wall without messy wires.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465514)

The point of it is that you don't have to put it in the precise spot for the contacts to touch, and you can share the same pad with quite a few devices. Well, usually a couple at once, and more if you swap them out. It's nice because you can have a couple of them in strategic locations and have them charge there as needed. Throw in a bluetooth headset and you can easily put it on charge as you move from room to room.

Additionally a lot of the newer ones are set up so that they shut the electrical drain down quite a bit when not in use, so instead of having a half dozen chargers plugged in at all times, you've got just one, and you don't have to worry about unplugging the other ones when you're not using them.

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

Lanforod (1344011) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465954)

Rather difficult to completely waterproof a gadget that requires microphones to use, like phone's do. Just ask an hearing aid company... Might be really good if the range can be made to be significant like 10 meters+. Particularly for devices that are ideally left on your body (being hard of hearing, I can say that there would be a huge benefit in being able to provide a steady source of power to a device such as a Cochlear implant that currently requires significant battery power).

Re:Efficient? Better in any way? (1)

SammyIAm (1348279) | more than 4 years ago | (#33466258)

Actually it seems more likely to become standardized. I mean, since there's no weird connectors to deal with, the only real variable would appear to be to be the frequency, and maybe the power. And Inductive-charger-mat manufacturers are going to want that standardized so their mat will work with the maximum number of devices.

Also, for one device this is equally as easy. If I could put multiple devices on one mat, this is much more convenient than trying to fit a bunch of wall-warts onto a power strip to charge multiple devices.

It's almost certainly going to be less efficient though, I agree with you there.

The future (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463362)

I love the fact that we have wireless power chargers now, even if they are (relatively) primitive. When I was a kid (I was born in 1984, so to some of you I still am...ha!) the one invention I hoped to see in my lifetime was the ability to safely transmit power wirelessly. Even though it's still in it's rudimentary stages, I certainly didn't expect the technology to appear so soon.

Sweeeeet nectar.

Re:The future (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463458)

I hoped to see in my lifetime was the ability to safely transmit power wirelessly.

Didn't we have laser powered devices some time ago already?

Re:The future (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463494)

Should have been more specific...I meant on a "mainstream" scale. These charging mats are just a starting point, but they are priced low enough where the average person could afford them.

When I was a kid, I was thinking more along the lines of wireless lamps and such, but you gotta start somewhere, right?

Re:The future (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463540)

I hoped to see in my lifetime was the ability to safely transmit power wirelessly.

Didn't we have laser powered devices some time ago already?

And solar powered devices. Thats wireless.

Re:The future (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464462)

Not to mention batteries.

Re:The future (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464306)

i still remember seeing a setup with a ruby laser for speakers.

it was completely analog in that the lasers intensity was fluxed in the same way you would do voltage/amperage for a speaker signal (don't know the exact details i was young when i saw it).. in this fashion the ruby laser provided both the power to drive the coil and the audio.

was really neat to see and play with..

Re:The future (1)

ReverendJ1 (1703482) | more than 4 years ago | (#33465214)

When I was a kid, the one invention I wanted to see in my lifetime was a hoverboard [wikipedia.org] .

Is a de-charge possible? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33463364)

If you can charge something like a battery over the air with (i'm assuming) magnetic waves.. Is it somehow possible to have the same battery be drained by opposing magnetic waves or some other sort of interference while it is on or off the charger?

Re:Is a de-charge possible? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463556)

If you can charge something like a battery over the air with (i'm assuming) magnetic waves.. Is it somehow possible to have the same battery be drained by opposing magnetic waves or some other sort of interference while it is on or off the charger?

No, only if the device cooperates. One exception to note is that if you put the antenna of your phone close to a ground plane (like a metal table top) the transmitter will increase its transmission power, thus draining the battery.

Then there was this story I read about a guy who lived next door to an AM radio station and extracted energy from their cyclone wire fence. Not sure about that one.

Not sure what the benefit is (2, Insightful)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463372)

I'm not really sure what the overall benefit of the "wireless" electromagnetic induction chargers are. You're still left with a wire (from the wall to your induction charger plate) and now, you're left with the added problem of having to hunt around for the induction charger plate whenever you need to charge your device. Plus, I'm betting those chargers will cost you a lot more than, say, a USB mini cable. It just seems like the technology's desperately looking for an audience.

Re:Not sure what the benefit is (2, Informative)

HelioWalton (1821492) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463426)

I believe the idea is that you have one charger plate that you would always leave plugged in, and it works for all of your devices that have a power receiver plugged in (Or built in, I suppose). You wouldn't have to "hunt around for the induction charger plate", since you would have one between all of your devices. It would be like a bowl for your keys at the door - When you come in, you can just chuck your stuff onto the charger plate, and hey presto, it's charged next time you grab it. No fiddly wires to plug or unplug when you come in.

Re:Not sure what the benefit is (1)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463538)

Maybe, but it'll cost a lot more to build a charger plate than it would be to buy a simple cable. For example, I've got 3 chargers for my phone - one in my office, one at my home computer, and one in my car. Each of those chargers are fairly cheap - 10-20 bucks max, because they're just a simple USB cable. If I had to switch to induction charger plates, I bet you that I'd have to shell out at least $50-100 bucks per charger.

Re:Not sure what the benefit is (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463668)

3 chargers for that one ... 3 chargers for the one you had before... how many have you had in your lifetime?

The 'USB' thing is recent (and still not universal - my phone doesn't have it).

Re:Not sure what the benefit is (1)

HelioWalton (1821492) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464040)

Generally correct, yes. My opinion was based on these PowerMat [thesource.ca] products that I see often enough in weekly flyers

Re:Not sure what the benefit is (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464130)

Most likely in the future cars will come with these built in at least. I know I'd certainly buy one for home too, and with the battery life you get on gadgets these days you probably won't need a charger at work.. and workplaces might start using desks with all of this built in to power devices rather than having to mess about with fscking power cables for everything. The 8 port power extender under my desk only has one port free, and only then because I was fed up of having to unplug my speakers every time I needed to fix someone's laptop or whatever.

Re:Not sure what the benefit is (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464446)

1) many phones and cameras still do not charge over USB (in fact the iphones won't "fast charge" over usb)

2) so you use the cable at work(hopfully you have enough battery to got 10 hours on a charge), and the pad at home. Of course I'd like to see less of a pad design and more of a bowl design.

Re:Not sure what the benefit is (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463938)

The assumption is that you'll leave one charger plate sitting out in your house, and use all your Qi-based gadgets with it. One charger for you and your visitors, no fiddling with plugs, no misplacing the charger, great. The big hurdle is that they'll need a lot of adoption before people find themselves in that scenario. In the interim it's just a big expensive charger for that one big expensive thing you own that works with it, and unless they somehow push through that barrier it'll never sell.

Twitter that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33463406)

The consortium said it chose the brand Qi (pronounced "chee") to refer to the concept of energy flow in traditional Chinese medicine, not the cult quiz show QI (for "quite interesting") hosted by Stephen Fry on British TV.

Name dropping Stephen Fry to market your dull product I see?

Re:Twitter that (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464510)

Damn, "Qi" is one of those words that's incredibly useful for disposing of an awkward "Q" at the end of a game of Scrabble - I don't want it to become a widely used household word.

A New Age of Inefficiency (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463448)

Finally a way to soak up all the work in energy efficiency all over the tech world, and break even in an eternal 2005 of wasted energy!

Neat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33463450)

Neat! Nuff said.

Cool system (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#33463586)

Shame about the atrocious logo design.

Electric cars (1)

Elwar123 (1053566) | more than 4 years ago | (#33464546)

Imagine electric cars charged wirelessly while either parked at a parking lot or while driving down the road. That would be a great use of the technology.

Don't Need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33465348)

Just put an USB connector on every phone, pretty please with sugar on top.

Here's a question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33465358)

Wouldn't it be easier and better if they do a system that is based on a single resonant frequency, that way you have one device in each room the resonates at a frequency that activates a device in the electrical device causing it to charge or receive power? Make it a standard frequency and have all devices power off of it, in theory one would only consume the amount of energy it takes to have the resonator running which should be minimal. In theory that should save a lot of money and power, so it benefits both the conservationists and the average person.

Doesn't the Palm Pre already do this? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 4 years ago | (#33466120)

Doesn't the Palm Pre already do this? Also isn't there a generic inductive cell phone charger already on the market? Some kind of charging mat? If so, what is all this fuss about, other than it would be one device to charge them all?

Wireless power chips are already buyable online!! (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 4 years ago | (#33466322)

http://www.powercastco.com/ [powercastco.com]

Not magnetic induction charge plate based, actually over the air over medium distances, already here, products available for immediate delivery [futureelectronics.com] .... and nobody seems to cares. They've been around for a few years with shipping product and everything.

It's almost like people can't believe their product is real. It's so very strange.

Even won a best of CES in 2007: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-12760_7-9673092-5.html?tag=ces2007;mcol [cnet.com]

TRUE WIRELESS POWER
Powercast’s technology provides true wireless power for continuous charging and power-over-distance for one or more devices. Wireless power transmission is based on commonly used radio waves and Powercast's patented RF-to-DC conversion technology. The combination enables low-power electronic devices to become finally untethered with trickle-charge embedded wireless power.

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