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Fujitsu Eyes Wireless Gadget Charging For 2012

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the don't-cross-the-streams dept.

Power 158

angry tapir writes "Researchers at Fujitsu Laboratories have developed a wireless charging system that they say can simultaneously charge a variety of portable gadgets over a distance of several centimeters without the need for cables. The system, which will be detailed at a technical conference in Japan this week, could begin appearing in mobile phones and other products as soon as 2012, the company said. Fujitsu's system is based on magnetic resonance in which power can be wirelessly sent between two coils that are tuned to resonate at the same frequency."

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158 comments

frosty piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33558536)

frosty piss

Re:frosty piss (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559600)

Dmo arigat, Mr. Roboto.

Efficiency (2, Insightful)

jaxxa (1580613) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558538)

I believe the standard question is what is the efficiency?

Re:Efficiency (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33558562)

You could read the article. The efficiency is 85% at 15cm, and much higher at closer distances, since the efficiency drops off with the cube of the distance.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33558632)

I'd be fascinated to know how "magnetic resonance" transfer can be 85% efficient at 15cm, at anything like practical household size.

That said, it seems crazy to apply it to a wired bay I'm going to set my gadget next to, instead of on, "to save wire clutter". Not that crazy doesn't sell rather well, of course.

Crazy? (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559516)

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

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

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

Wireless? You bet your ass. Bring it on.

So a step back green wise then (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558828)

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

Yay.

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

Re:So a step back green wise then (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558970)

It won't cost that much more, especially with 85% efficiency @ 15cm.

I'm prepared to go down to as much as 10% efficiency or maybe worse so that I can sit at the other side of the room if I want to.

And TV standbys if done properly probably cost around 5p per year. Not a fortune.

Re:So a step back green wise then (1)

Deluge (94014) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559584)

"And TV standbys if done properly probably cost around 5p per year. Not a fortune."

Right. The problem is the hundreds of millions of these leaky devices combining to drain a significant amount of power, not your personal cost of 5p.

Re:So a step back green wise then (3, Insightful)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559648)

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

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

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

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

Re:So a step back green wise then (2, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559004)

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

Why would you need your desktop computer or TV to have wireless power? I'd expect this would be useful mainly for mobile devices or things that for some reason or another need power but can't have a battery or wires. The "powerpad" that's out right now which is technically wireless is marketed as a convinient charging station for your cell phone, handheld gaming systems, camera ETC. With that, you have to set the thing right on top of the charging station, but 15 cm isn't that far either, it's probably not going to replace all cords anytime soon.

Re:So a step back green wise then (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559298)

but 15 cm isn't that far either, it's probably not going to replace all cords anytime soon.

There'd be a limit to distance (and power output), otherwise more people would be getting free power from their neighbours whether intentionally or not.

And people would be complaining that the stuff is making them ill, filing lawsuits etc.

Re:So a step back green wise then (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559892)

And people would be complaining that the stuff is making them ill, filing lawsuits etc.

They'll do that, anyway. If you stop product development out of a fear that crazy people will sure you, you'll never develop anything.

Re:So a step back green wise then (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559334)

GP didn't say that they wanted wireless-powered TV's and monitors.

I believe GP was commenting on how much power is wasted in "standby mode" on such devices. For example, HDTV panels are often reported to consume less than 1-watt on standby but if you ask them to cache program info then parts of the system are active to monitor the DVB broadcast stream, often consuming 20-watts (or more).

Re:So a step back green wise then (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559432)

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

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

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

vampire power draw (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559540)

It's a temporary problem anyway, born of our (again temporary) dependence upon power sources that are very expensive, and ultimately limited - petroleum, gas, etc. We will switch to practically unlimited sources of power - we have to - and as we do, the issue of vampire power will go away. Solar, with storage; nuclear; etc. Petroleum power is convenient because its easy, but given the other sources, it's also stupid, because petroleum is also a resource for things we can't replace.

Re:vampire power draw (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559674)

No, it's just common sense. Waste is still waste, and is never a good thing.

Re:vampire power draw (1)

mpeskett (1221084) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559884)

GP's point is that waste is only something to worry about when you also have scarcity.

Whilst there will always be some sort of finite limit to the power supply, electricity could be made so cheap to produce that it's not worth worrying about saving it, at which point waste becomes something of a non-issue.

It might still be "not a good thing", but it could become an acceptable evil if the cost of the waste really was minimal.

Re:vampire power draw (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560008)

Waste is still waste, and is never a good thing.

Not true. Strictly speaking, heat is "wasted" energy. It has its uses.

Outside of mathematics, statements containing the word "never" are rarely true. ;)

Re:So a step back green wise then (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559552)

I want to know how much desk space my eight charging pads will take up (one for each device - you can bet they won't be compatible).

Oh, wait, I see the point now! Once you have a SONY charging pad you'll prefer to buy another more SONY products because buying a competitor will mean you lose another six inches of desk space - it's the memory stick con in disguise!

Re:So a step back green wise then (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559702)

" ... I want to know how much desk space my eight charging pads will take up (one for each device - you can bet they won't be compatible). ... "

Erm, the summary says: " ... can simultaneously charge a variety of portable gadgets ... "

Re:So a step back green wise then (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560068)

Time for me to stand up in church and confess my heretical nature: "government regulation".

Re:So a step back green wise then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33560084)

Die memory stick, die.
Die beta max, die.
Die DAT, die.
Die Minidisc, die.

As for SACD and blu-ray. I own players for each of these formats, so they are ok.

-- gid

Re:So a step back green wise then (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559676)

" ... Why would you need your desktop computer or TV to have wireless power? ... "

Because I have a computer, a laptop, my wife's laptop, a tv, a sky box, a DVD player, a video player (Yes we do still have one) and a standard lamp all competing for socket space.

Re:So a step back green wise then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559824)

There are devices called "power bars" for that. They're extremely rare, and I know the concept of it is pretty radical, but it can be done.

Re:So a step back green wise then (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560176)

Yes, I know but they take up space and it, itself, has wires. Yet more cables.

Cables are the bane of most people's lives. They get tangled, dusty and you have to crawl under desks to change there configuration. In other words, they a a complete bugger to work with.

Re:Efficiency (2, Interesting)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558602)

With "Fujitsu" as the maker, the standard question is "how much skin will they want from me".

It will be small, efficient and maybe even work, but it won't be cheap enough to make sense to buy.

At least the Japanese model.

/ Yes, I have a few Loox notebooks.

Wow! A new fangled proprietary charging system.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33558586)

transfer happens only between coils that are tuned to the same frequency

Call me a cynic, but any bets that Fujitsu will patent the technology thereby making the device only work for Fujitsu products? .. like my Fujitsu ... ... ... printer?

How many wireless charging systems do we need? (5, Insightful)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558594)

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

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

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

Re:How many wireless charging systems do we need? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558612)

Yes a portable gadget would be cool, anyone can charge with wires, no wires now.

Re:How many wireless charging systems do we need? (1)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558736)

at worst, a wireless adaptor that plugs into USB (could be embedded into a protective case) would work well enough.

Re:How many wireless charging systems do we need? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560086)

I have seen both cases and replacement batteries as variant solutions for older gear.

Re:How many wireless charging systems do we need? (3, Informative)

Aldanga (1757414) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558752)

There definitely needs to be a set standard. I suspect IEEE or another such organization will eventually step up and figure out an agreeable standard.

However, the technology hasn't advanced to the point where it's exactly realistic for most people, or even truly usable. Unless there is a significant breakthrough in the near future, such standardization will probably not happen anytime soon.

Re:How many wireless charging systems do we need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33560044)

IEEE is a shadow of it's former and is next to useless

Industry greed and self interest and hopeless politicians saw fit to that

Re:How many wireless charging systems do we need? (2, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558934)

It would be nice if we could standardise this stuff.

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

Re:How many wireless charging systems do we need? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559082)

The replacement/extra batteries are even worse than the chargers.

(I think the biannual "exploding battery turned out to be a Chinese fake!" stories are paid for by cell phone manufacturers...)

Re:How many wireless charging systems do we need? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559122)

Paid for? Try "rigged and planted" by cell phone manufacturers. You'll note energizer, duracell and rayovac haven't jumped into the aftermarket cell phone battery ring....

Re:How many wireless charging systems do we need? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559044)

This was announced *because* USB is becoming dangerously close to a standard for charging.

Already here for a while now (4, Informative)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558614)

Is it me, or are people having a hard time believing the technology actually exists?

Two Companies Already Have Products:

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

NY Times Covered this stuff in 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/09/magazine/09wirelessenergy.html?_r=1&ref=magazine [nytimes.com]

Here's CNET demoing powercast's tech in 2007!
http://cnettv.cnet.com/powercast/9742-1_53-25606.html [cnet.com]

You can buy full blown evaluation boards online that powercast manufactures that implement wireless electricity:

http://www.futureelectronics.com/en/technologies/development-tools/rf-wireless/Pages/9660812-P1110-EVB.aspx [futureelectronics.com]

Why is everyone having such a hard time with this concept?

Re:Already here for a while now (4, Interesting)

OBeardedOne (700849) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558738)

I thought wireless power looked fantastic until I took a closer look at what you are actually getting. You can't just chuck your phone on the wireless charger pad and have it magically charge the phone. You need to either add a special "sleave" to the product you want to charge wirelessly or actually plug the product into the charge pad using various adapters which completely negates any real benefit from "wireless" power.

So for gadgets that currently are not "wireless power" enabled the tech kinda sucks and it is being overhyped in a major way - at least based on the product packaging and in-store displays that I've seen. It will be interesting to see if it takes off when manufacturers find a way to seamlessly incorporate this into new devices

Re:Already here for a while now (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33558812)

You need to either add a special "sleave" to the product you want to charge

Did you put that in quotes because you purposely misspelled sleeve?

Re:Already here for a while now (5, Interesting)

OBeardedOne (700849) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558842)

As a follow on to my earlier post, this is the clincher for the tech - from the article:

"Fujitsu's system couples a coil with a capacitor in receiving devices. The size of the device determines the size of coil it can accommodate and that in turn affects the capacitance."

So the bigger the coil in the receiving device the better. That aint going to go down so well for mobile phones, ipods etc where the size of the battery/power supply is absolutely crucial to the success of the product i.e. smaller is better. If it doesn't make sense for the mobile market then it won't be anything more than a niche product for the foreseeable future. Particularly when the benefit hardly comes close to outweighing the cost - really, how hard is it to plug a phone in?

Re:Already here for a while now (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559100)

I would agree with you, but then again I've lost the charging cable for several phones in the past. When companies refuse to standardise their connections (MicroUSB on all mobile phones please. Support charging by USB. That is all.) you get stuck with a very pretty paperweight, or the cost of a proprietary cable.

Now, I only buy phones with MicroUSB connections. If I didn't need to worry about that for charging (this wireless charging tech), then I wouldn't need a cable at all. I can connect over Wireless LAN / PAN connections to manage files and content.

I'd probably like this tech.

Re:Already here for a while now (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559106)

really, how hard is it to plug a phone in?

Much too hard, apparently - read the comments.

Re:Already here for a while now (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559734)

Plugging it in is easy. That is not the benefit of this device, however. It's the "wireless" bit that is the benefit.

Have you looked behind your TV unit or computer desk recently?

Re:Already here for a while now (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559716)

The bigger the coil refers to the number of loops, not actually the physical size (although there is a relationship, obviously).

If it was possible to make the wires thinner, that would work.

You still don't get it !? (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558974)

The power is not transmitted via an electric toothbrush type induction coil. It's transmitted through magnetic resonance which is an entirely different physical process that lets the transmission work when the charger and the device to be charged are not touching.

Watch the CNET video I linked to above and notice how utterly mystified the presenter is that the Christmas tree light branch lights are lit up and the device has no embedded power source and is not physically touching or adjacent to the power source.

This is what I mean in that people have trouble understanding this technology. They always seem to mistake it for induction charging. It's as if people somehow simply cannot believe it exists.

Re:You still don't get it !? (1)

OBeardedOne (700849) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559098)

With all due respect, I get it perfectly well thank you. I think you are not getting it or have misunderstood what I wrote. Note that the presenter specifically states that "the lamp has the technology embedded". In this case "the technology" is the power source! Using a lamp as a demonstration is disingenuous though as lamps don't need batteries and the techs reason detre is battery powered devices. As my original post suggested, they are going to have trouble fitting "the technology" in with the battery in order to make the end product palatable to finicky users that want their tech products as small and sleek as possible.

Re:You still don't get it !? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559782)

Using a lamp as a demonstration is disingenuous though as lamps don't need batteries and the techs reason detre is battery powered devices.

1) you forgot an important grave which turns "reason d'etre" into stupidity.

2) Using a lamp as a demonstration is just fine, because lamps don't have batteries but they do require a wire. I want to eventually eliminate ALL the wires in my home. As this technology matures it may become possible.

Re:You still don't get it !? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560194)

I'd like my desk lamp to have the charger side embedded in it.

That way i get the most from the wire going to the charger, and can leave my devices on the desk.

Re:You still don't get it !? (2, Interesting)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559628)

> magnetic resonance which is an entirely different physical process

Hmmm. You're going to have to explain to me, a physicist, exactly what you think the difference between magnetic induction and magnetic resonance is, aside from the name. I'm all ears.

Re:Already here for a while now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33560048)

Not true, they have the technology to actually build the receiver into an extended battery pack as long as the battery ins on the back of the phone. And if cell phone companies got their shit together they could build it right into the phone. there is a standard it is the wireless power consortium http://www.wirelesspowerconsortium.com/ that just finished the standard for low power devices 5w which includes mobile phones and other portables.

Re:Already here for a while now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33558782)

Mind you though that the eval board is a receiver only. Why is the transmitter not available either? That's exactly the kind of stuff that makes me skeptical...

Re:Already here for a while now (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559022)

The eval board will turn any RF between 850Mhz and 950Mhz into DC power. Not a whole lot of it, but a useful amount for things like sensors.

See here for more details:
http://www.powercastco.com/products/development-kits/ [powercastco.com]

See, this is what I mean by people just refuse to believe this technology is real. In that you're "skeptical", you think it's some sort of pseudoscience or something like that?

Re:Already here for a while now (3, Informative)

Mike McTernan (260224) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558814)

Splashpower started in 2001: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splashpower [wikipedia.org]

I actually saw one of their demonstrations and it was cool. The pad was just a slightly thick mousepad like device, and you could put multiple phones of different types on it at the same time and at any orientation. They had modified battery modules to contain their own chip which did the inductive pick up and regulation. They said their goal was to get the chip built into devices by default, although unless the chip was very cheap, I suspect this would have been difficult to include in cost sensitive mobile phones and iPods.

Re:Already here for a while now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559352)

When they achieve respectable efficiency figures, I'm sure they start publicizing the numbers. Until then, it's just not very interesting -- except if you're into this sort of hacking of course.

So, maybe you are mistaking general lack of interest for lack of understanding?

Re:Already here for a while now (1)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560094)

Why is everyone having such a hard time with this concept?

IDK, especially since I already have one in my home. It's a flat "pad" that plugs into the wall. You lay a Wii controller on the pad, and it charges the controller without plugging it in to anything. Sounds like this is the same technology referenced in the article.

Wireless = Radio? (1)

dark grep (766587) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558636)

Isn't "magnetic resonance in which power can be wirelessly sent between two coils that are tuned to resonate at the same frequency." otherwise known as a radio transmitter/receiver? I recall as a young lad building a crystal set with a coil of wire and a diode, that was able to extract enough power from the local radio station to drive a small speaker. Seems like any piece of wire and a diode will extract a trickle feed of power from the RF bath we live in. Why not just use that?

Re:Wireless = Radio? (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558652)

Seems like any piece of wire and a diode will extract a trickle feed of power from the RF bath we live in. Why not just use that?

Because there is not enough, but I suppose you could market a mobile phone which you charge by putting it in the microwave.

Re:Wireless = Radio? (2, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558676)

Because there is not enough, but I suppose you could market a mobile phone which you charge by putting it in the microwave.

But the Tesla coil is in there.

Re:Wireless = Radio? (1)

dark grep (766587) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558704)

Not enough for the power needed for a 1 hour recharge of an 8 hour talk life battery, sure. But a continuous trickle charge.... ?? As for microwaves - I wonder just what frequency the two tuned coils use? Something around the 1-10GHz band maybe?

Re:Wireless = Radio? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560032)

"Oh, my battery's about to die. I'll call you back in 6 hours when my phone manages to recharge enough for a 10 minute conversation".

Re:Wireless = Radio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33558830)

No. It is not your EM-radiation. Rather, these units function off of having a mutual induction [wikipedia.org] with the charger. The problem with using radiative methods is that all the power is sent out in all direction equally and, if not captured locally, wasted.

"Green", we hardly knew ya (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33558698)

So if adoption is widespread we can increase energy consumption by gadgets by 15% across the board in the name of saving "clutter".
I guess all that energy is coming from sustainable, non-polluting sources, so it's probably ok.

Re:"Green", we hardly knew ya (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33558776)

brown coal to the rescue

Re:"Green", we hardly knew ya (4, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558784)

I'd be surprised if portable devices account for even 0.1% of household energy usage. Who cares? Worry about your HVAC, laundry machines, refrigerator, home server, incandescent lights, etc.

Re:"Green", we hardly knew ya (2, Informative)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559634)

> Worry about your HVAC, laundry machines, refrigerator, home server, incandescent lights, etc.

I did. So I replaced them all, and then added a 12-panel solar array.

My electronics trickle is indeed something that worries me, it's one whole panel.

Re:"Green", we hardly knew ya (1)

Undead Waffle (1447615) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558786)

So if adoption is widespread we can increase energy consumption by gadgets by 15% across the board in the name of saving "clutter". I guess all that energy is coming from sustainable, non-polluting sources, so it's probably ok.

Basically. It's really just a gimmick unless they can scale it up and have something similar to a wifi hotspot that charges your mobile devices while you're close enough. If they can pull that off without too much waste (good luck) and make it as common as wifi then mobile devices could have smaller batteries and/or more computing power. Not that the lack of such technology will stop manufacturers from offering smaller batteries and more computing power.

Re:"Green", we hardly knew ya (3, Insightful)

keatonguy (1001680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558796)

Ugh, not this again.

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

I'm hoping that charging everthing from USB beats (2)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558760)

I'm hoping that charging everthing from USB beats it to the punch. There are already piles of cheap car apaptors, wall warts, solar etc in addition to PCs and powered hubs. One octopus-like charger with leads going in all directions beats a long power strip with a lot of wide transformer plugs. About the only downside is slow charging speeds due to low current, but a lot of the time that doesn't matter.
Building half a transformer into all of these gadgets adds weight, cost and complexity in addition to the power transfer being lossy.

Personally I think that's the way to go (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558808)

A lot of devices use USB charging already so a lot of people have a charger (or more than one). It also has the advantage that any computer is a charger by default, so even if you don't have a dedicated charging unit, you can still charge your device. I charge my phone off my laptop when I travel, so I only have to bring the laptop's cord. Also, USB is a nice, standard data interface. Means that in the event the device needs data, you don't need another port.

My smartphone, my Logitech remote, our camera at work, and so on all charge from, and communicate by, USB and it is really nice.

To me, wireless charging seems stupid since it is extremely range limited. You can't have wireless charging as in "I have a charger in my kitchen and devices everywhere in the house charge." The pesky inverse square law bites that in the ass. It is something where they have to be close to touching. Ok well that just means instead of plugging in your device, you instead plug in a charger, and then set your device on it. Oh yay, that is so much better... Or not.

We just have to accept the fact that wires are here to stay for many things, power being the biggest one. You can't effectively convey power over anything other than an extremely short distance without a wire. Makes all wireless charging very silly if you asked me.

I mean think about it in relation to data. The reason I have a wireless AP is because that one AP lets me use my laptop anywhere in my house. I can roam around and get data at the same rate no matter what. That makes it worth having. However say rather than that, it was a little unit that had to connect to wired Ethernet and your laptop had to sit right next to it to get data. You could move an inch or two at most before losing signal. Would you bother? I wouldn't, I'd just connect the wire directly. It wouldn't save me any hassle to have to set the laptop right next to something connected to a wire over just connecting the wire itself.

Re:Personally I think that's the way to go (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558958)

For me, wired connection is not really that great.

If you plug in/unplug device daily (charging smartphone), you are going to see damage and suddenly you notice that you have to apply some pressue on side to make sure connection is made.. Not to mention that there is danger of prying connector loose from board - something you do not want to happen.

Wireless means there is going to be less mechanical damage. Thingie is going to have a bit increased lifespan. That seems worth it.

Re:Personally I think that's the way to go (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559114)

Well I have a pretty long history using electronic devices, including things like cellphones that you charge daily. Currently the total number of failed power connections I've seen due to regular mechanical wear is zero.

I really do not believe this is a big deal.

Re:Personally I think that's the way to go (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560150)

" ... We just have to accept the fact that wires are here to stay for many things ... "

We just have to accept the fact that square wheels are here to stay for many things

There, fixed that for ya!

Re:I'm hoping that charging everthing from USB bea (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558960)

My laptop power transformer is pretty light, and to me it would be worth the extra weight to allow me to rid the ubiquitous wire.

Re:I'm hoping that charging everthing from USB bea (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559148)

The standalone USB chargers have higher current, as do many of the newer PCs.

Insulting to Muslims? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33558770)

I'm worried that this wireless charger could be used to charge devices that could be used to display images of the prophet Mohammed. What can I do about this as someone who wants to show moderate Moslems everywhere that the US is not at war at Islam?

Is this really wise... (5, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33558826)

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

Re:Is this really wise... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559140)

Yep. I could understand people getting excited if it charged the phone as you walk around the house or via the cell tower or something. This just gives you 10cm of extra distance, you still have to put your phone on it and leave it there to charge. If you're really too lazy to insert a plug (about three seconds) then a dock is just as simple and takes up less desk space.

But that's not what it's about. It's about appearance. Messing around with wires and plugs makes you sound like a poor person.

Laser powered energy will probably win in the end (4, Interesting)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559046)

In other related news, they've kept up a model helicopter in the air by transferring power by laser:

http://www.brahmand.com/news/Mini-helicopter-flies-using-laser-power/4824/3/13.html [brahmand.com]

Because of the inverse cube law for wireless power transfer, I think we'll ultimately be using this kind of laser technology in future, fitted to house ceilings and street lamps. If blocking obstacles become an issue, then the receiving device can also send a purely informational laser back to the source to make sure that it's okay to beam the power laser at it, and in this case the initial source power laser can be instantly shut off, similar to those 'SawStop' table saws that shut off in milliseconds if the hand gets in the way to prevent loss of fingers.

Re:Laser powered energy will probably win in the e (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559806)

Because of the inverse cube law for wireless power transfer,

That only applies for broadcast, this is [almost] unicasting. Last I checked the technology used phased arrays.

If blocking obstacles become an issue, then the receiving device can also send a purely informational laser back to the source to make sure that it's okay to beam the power laser at it, and in this case the initial source power laser can be instantly shut off, similar to those 'SawStop' table saws that shut off in milliseconds if the hand gets in the way to prevent loss of fingers.

Even if laser power made sense (which it does not) this is not the way you would do it. You would add a data stream to the power laser, just as the signal on a sawstop system is gathered from the blade itself and not from a separate sensor. Data stream is affected, then power is being interrupted. It's either that or basically surrounding the power beam with the informational beam, or an array thereof. Either way it's a bad, stupid idea to do laser power any way other than over fiber, in which context it is useful for optical isolation.

Safety (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559142)

How safe are these? Health issues?

Re:Safety (2, Informative)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559520)

"Very" and "No". It's a transformer. There are probably 30 or so in your house right now.

This should be worthwhile... (3, Interesting)

kieran (20691) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559256)

It's about time we started seeing waterproof phones and e-readers, and if the power is wireless and communication is wireless, there shouldn't be many more barriers to this.

Magnetic resonance (2, Interesting)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559670)

People that live near high tension towers have put up coils to suck up stray power for years. The power companies frown on this, but my feeling is that it makes up for shortening peoples lives because of living next to these things.

EV Charging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33559714)

Anyone know if they're looking into using this sort of thing where it might be useful such as large equipment with bulky connections or Electric Vehicles?

Tin foil hats at the ready (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559750)

Won't be long before someone will complain it is causing them headaches or some other medical problem.

Same Old Ridiculous idea, once again (2, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559876)

This is a well-trodden area-- explored by many folks, starting with Tesla. Unfortunately there are several very basic phisical showbunglers if not showstoppers.
Issues that are fundamental to electromagnetic radiation:

(1) If you send out EM waves, the efficiency of the antennas is like 1% at low frequencies, wasting 99.99% of the power. If you use microwave frequencies, the antennas are much more efficient, but so is your body's ability to absorb the stuff, which is not a good thing.

(2) If you try this near-field coupled resonator thing (first tried in 1886), you son find out it has very limited range, and you need coils as large as the distance to be spanned, and the power drops off as the square of the distance when near, as the cube of the distance a little bit farther away.

These are basic Maxwell's equation impediments that are unlikely to ever be overcome.

 

This isn't speacial... (1)

Smerky (1849100) | more than 3 years ago | (#33559956)

This isn't by any means anything special...It's just inductive charging. Electric tooth brushes have been using it for awhile. Actually the HTC Evo has an inductive charging set you can get. So...inductive charging has already come to some mobile phones...

redundancy (1)

tesla_reincarnated (1773220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33560040)

suprock technologies already provides hardware that can do this, link : http://suprocktech.com/ [suprocktech.com] video at the bottom...wireless power transfer platform...perfect for enthusiasts just looking to utilize this technology in their own project
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