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Wireless Power Gets A Boost

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the more-fun-then-a-microwave-power-accident dept.

Power 102

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

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it's not wireless chumps (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507010)

when you have to connect it to something, it's not wireless. quit wasting my time.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17507044)

People familiar with wireless recharging technology say it could work by placing a device, fitted internally or externally with an adapter, onto the metal pad. When contact is made, electrical power is sent between the two.

No shit, Sherlock.

Visteon, a Fulton partner and maker of high-end automotive products, will debut a consumer version of an eCoupled product at CES, a car cup holder that recharges devices set inside it using eCoupled's induction process.

Oh, that's the kind of news you fucking disfigured obese US-Americans like, huh, charging your fatty Latte Mac.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (4, Insightful)

milo_a_wagner (1002274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507056)

Anything 'not using wires' to connect the devices/power sources/network/whatever is 'wireless'. You're using a stipulative definition of wireless, I think. Not sure.

What do others think?

Wiki: The term wireless is normally used to refer to any type of electrical or electronic operation which is accomplished without the use of a "hard wired" connection.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (2, Informative)

milo_a_wagner (1002274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507072)

I stand corrected!

The term "wireless" should not be confused with the term "cordless"

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17514454)

IMO it is wireless. I just do not see what is the point. I could see a point in having a wireless mouse or keyboard which is being continuously powered at a distance for example. Using it for merely recharging does not make much sense to me. I mean, it will waste more energy than using a cable.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516698)

it's using a metal contact pad, that's no different to the 100's of other devices that use a cradle. all these losers are doing is attempting to get everyone to change the form factor to their own design.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507076)

Cheesy Induction ploy, if you have to place it on or in the proximity of a device
you may as well have wires.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (4, Informative)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507218)

Cheesy Induction ploy, if you have to place it on or in the proximity of a device
you may as well have wires.

Induction is a good thing, maybe a bit cheesy at its inception - but wait until it matures. I had a watch that was charged using induction, it allowed it to recharge without having a connection or contacts exposed.

If this technology improves, it could become very useful.

For example, power induction systems below road surfaces for hybrid and electric vehicles. Cell phone holders in cars that charge without any contacts to become tarnished or bent.

I don't see it replacing all hardwired or contact based connections, but it would be a welcomed addition to many devices that are designed for severe duty.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (2, Interesting)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509770)

I had a watch that was charged using induction, it allowed it to recharge without having a connection or contacts exposed.

I have a mechanical watch that's "charged" using a pendulum that moves when I move my arm and winds the mainspring. Perhaps such a system could be adapted to things like iPods that often get used on a person of in a vehicle.


Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

akf2000 (262227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509824)

My electric toothbrush takes hours and hours to recharge. Do they trickle feed it or is there some reason induction methods should take much longer?

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511520)

I would guess it's directly related to the size of the induction coils, energy used, and the pickup coils in the brush itself.

If it has a large battery (doubt it) or is designed poorly so that much of the energy is wasted (more likely) it will pickup very little energy.

Depending on the model - it could also be losing energy sitting idle, especially if it has a fancy lcd display or whatnot.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512040)


I had a "charge mat" back in 1992. It was my college Final Project for my electronics engineering degree.

I had a mat that you simply threw your newton, cellphone and other objects on and they charged. I build the inductive coils and circuits that fit in the devices to be charged.

Their idea is not new, and neither was mine. I based my project on research from Tesla and others.

My problem is that the morons at the Patent office will give these idiots a patent on something that is not special in any way.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1, Interesting)

KUHurdler (584689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507388)

we just got a bunch of those induction flashlights at work that are supposed to charge themselves when you shake them... for "safety". Naturally, we disected them the same day we got them, only to find that they are powered by two Lithium batteries.

I suppose shaking them could eventually charge the battery if it ever died... but it still seems like cheating to me.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507870)

Those shakeable flashlights need some form of energy storage, otherwise they'd only work while you were actively shaking them.

However, some of the cheaper ones don't actually use induction, they just have an unconnected coil of wires and a battery. I know a merchant who had to return a whole crate of them after I noticed the coil didn't seem to connect with anything and after dissecting it found that it didn't, and the slug wasn't even metal.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (2, Interesting)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507994)

we just got a bunch of those induction flashlights at work that are supposed to charge themselves when you shake them... for "safety". Naturally, we disected them the same day we got them, only to find that they are powered by two Lithium batteries.

Same concept, different application. Those flashlights contain a linear generator. Shaking them charges the batteries by essentially shaking a magnet back and forth past some coiled wire. Inductive chargers contain two coils--one inside the charger and one inside the device. When the charger runs current through its coil, the electrons in the device's coil are essentially "dragged along" too which generates current in the charging device without any metal touching between the charger and the device. This is especially handy for things like shavers and electric toothbrushes as metal contacts can get corroded or grimed up with toothpaste and shaving cream.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509124)

i boguht a few and played with them.. mine used the shaking to charge a capasitor - it worked quite well.. using a battery sounds like cheating and that it more than likly was a cheep knockoff

Electric toothbrushes (2, Insightful)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508188)

Induction is easier to make waterproof than metal wires.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

corerunner (971136) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512314)

What if you have a camera or scanner that needs to travel in a circle around an object of interest? As an example, my power electronics lab is currently creating just such a device for an EEG scanner that must circle travel 360 degrees around the patient. Doesn't seem so cheesy to me...

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

c_woolley (905087) | more than 7 years ago | (#17513006)

I am not sure, but I think that (in this case) the charge must be plugged in. You would still need a wiring harness in the fashion that you are mentioning. But, of course, I am not physically looking at how your setup is and am sure that you have figured a way around that. I don't think the idea is silly, it does tout advantages and opens up useful tools that were not available before. I do agree with several other posters in the idea that calling it "wireless" is a little off. Makes me feel like a used-car dealer is talking to me.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

corerunner (971136) | more than 7 years ago | (#17515180)

Wiring harness? The point is that there is no wiring harness. Another application would be moving head nightclub lights, which are currently limited to about 540 degrees of rotation. How cool would it be to have a light that can spin forever on multiple axes?

Re:it's not wireless chumps (3, Interesting)

animaal (183055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507132)

when you have to connect it to something, it's not wireless. quit wasting my time.
Wifi is termed "wireless" - even though your 802.11-enabled router is plugged into the wall, and is probably externally connected via an ethernet cable. Your reply might be "Yes, but I can receive a signal on my laptop without the laptop requiring a cable". Well, the same applies here. Your phone can charge without needing a cable plugged into it.

wireless phones (1)

246o1 (914193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507646)

In the case of 'wireless' phones, I doubt many people have ever considered the 'wireless' to actually refer to the method of charging in a cradle. I would go so far as to say that no one will be impressed by the weak definition of 'wireless' used here, since it could also refer to something like a charging phone or a battery in a bannery charger, since no wire goes into the actual devices being charged.

Induction power is not new, so the 'gets a boost' is surprisingly accurate (in that it doesn't promise something entirely new, just a step forward), but 'true wireless power,' if someone were to bring it to market, would really blow people's minds.

Re:wireless phones (4, Funny)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509156)

"blow people's minds."

is that in the make people amazed of new tech way or the hey ya'll watch this, with a tesla coil in the garage way?

Re:it's not wireless chumps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17507232)

when you have to connect it to something, it's not wireless. quit wasting my time.

What if you connect it to something without using wires??!

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507358)

while technically it is wired, I do agree with the sentement. If it still requires one or more physical connections between the object and the outlet, with no non-physical connections it's annoying. I wouldn't mind if it reduced the wires, I'd rather remove them completely.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

jacobw (975909) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508682)

While technically this product is wireless (since it doesn't involve wires), my initial instinct was that it was no more useful than wires (since you still have to make a physicial connection.)

But then I read TFA.

The idea, said T.C. Wingrove, Visteon's senior manager of innovation, is to have a "hot spot" in the car where you set down your phone or iPod and never have to worry about different types of power cords or outlets.

That actually does sound useful.

Re:it's not wireless chumps (0)

jahurska (883728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508746)

Also in my opinion wireless mouse is not really wireless, as it needs to be connected to a power source for recharge. But I don't think that these technologies are 'waste of time'. Especially the one where power was transferred through induction sounded promising. What I would use that is to have a really wireless mouse, recharging when it's on mousepad or a wireless keyboard etc.

Thinking that truly wireless power is possible somewhere in near future is foolish in my opinion. When you are transferring power through air it has some troublesome physical qualities. EMP pulse for example is a kind of wireless power. Usually there is a heaploads of power in it, and that power is what fries the electronic equipment by inducing a monster current on all of the wires it has including the miniscule ones in processors / chips. Also it affects for example the magnetic stips in credit cards etc, so a high output wireless power transmitter is not possible, until we figure a way to protect agains these ill effects. There is a protection equipment against EMP pulses, but to my understanding that requires power, so you would need power in the wireless device first to protect the chips and wires from unwanted currents before the power can be transferred :).

Re:it's not wireless chumps (1)

bane2571 (1024309) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516870)

actually, until this post I couldn't think of much that this could improve in my life but imagine a mouse pad that charged a wireless mouse - always on, never flat mouse with no additional work. of course then you have the problem of having a wired mousepad for your wireless mouse...

I suppose you could make the whole desk an induction charging pad, that way you could chuck a pot on it and cook up some instant noodles.

I, for one ... (2, Interesting)

milo_a_wagner (1002274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507036)

Can't wait for this stuff. Imagine it - slap your mobile down on your desk and it's charged. Your MacBook - chargind while you use it with no wires. Awesome. A pad that can charge multiple devices (as in the article) would also be great. But how realistic is this, by which I mean, how far away is this tech from being 'in the shops'? I suspect it'll be some time. Wingrove says their first device will be available this Summer, but I'm sceptical. And I *don't* want my phone/laptop etc. to have a wireless dongle sticking out of it; almost as unsightly as the power cord.

Re:I, for one ... (1)

rahlquist (558509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507078)

Why settle for slapping it down on your desk. How about just get in your car.

Re:I, for one ... (2, Interesting)

yourexhalekiss (833943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507098)

What is to prevent technologies like this from malfunctioning and frying everyone in the room? I'm not trolling, I'm just curious about the tech behind it.

Re:I, for one ... (5, Informative)

rahlquist (558509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507130)

Its been in limited use for years in Electric toothbrushes and its relatively safe. If you understand how inductance and transformers work then you've got more than half the understanding.

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

Think of these devices as each the charging base and the unit to be charged having half the transformer, bring them into proximity of each other and they begin to work. Ok its an over simplification but thats the basics.

Re:I, for one ... (0, Troll)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507238)

Isn't this somewhat similar to the magnetic plug the new Macs use (and subsequently catch fire from) ? My main worry with inductance power is the very fact that it isn't hard-wired. Doesn't that mean you could create varying levels of resistance by affecting the distance between the transformers ? If you were to put a thin object between the two devices, would that make the circuit "work harder" to overcome the distance, generating waste heat either in the gap or in the emitter circuitry as the capacitive circuit tries to compensate for the power loss ? My knowledge of electronics is limited to empirical observations so be gentle! :)

Re:I, for one ... (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507346)

are you trolling? what similarity there is between a magnet to clip two things together, and the (bloody obvious) use of a small airgap between two coils of a transformer to charge things by near contact, i really don't know. but no, all of your worries are groundless.

You're partly right (2, Informative)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507542)

Transformers certainly get less efficient if you increase the gaps between the components. Think of it like this: one half of the transformer is using electricity to produce a varying magnetic field; the other half is intercepting the varying magnetic field and using its energy to generate electricity; if you increase the spacing then less of the magnetic field is intercepted. This means the system works less hard, so overall it's cooler, but presumably charging takes longer.

Re:You're partly right (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511334)

Remembering though that a perfect transformer/inductor (no resistive losses in the windings) uses no power whatsoever. However the currents running through the windings which have finite resistance produces( I^2)R losses each cycle .

One reason why room temperature superconductors are so interesting..

However even such a perfect inductor would still consume power as read by a domestic meter because it measures IV to determine power consumption - of course we could then apply power factor correction, but then you'd have resistive losses in your capacitors - uless you made them out of super conductors too.

Ok I may be teaching grandmother how to suck eggs here, but some people on slashdot don't seem to understand this so I thought I should jump in.

Re:I, for one ... (0, Troll)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511778)

"Isn't this somewhat similar to the magnetic plug the new Macs use (and subsequently catch fire from) "

Um, no. What are you talking about? The magnet provides a mechanical attachment, not an electrical one.

Available since 1997 (1)

giafly (926567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507326)

My electric toothbrush works like this. Basically half the transformer is in the handle end of the toothbrush, and the other half is wrapped around a socket that it plugs into. Apparantly brushes like this have been available since 1997 [] .

Re:I, for one ... (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507204)

If there is one thing that is absolutelly non-realistic in your post is the implicit idea that manufacturers could agree on standards so that you could have a single pad charging all your devices.
And personally, between the inconvinience of plugging a battery charger every couple of days for my phone, my MP3 and my handheld console and having a device radiating WATTS in my bedroom, I'll stick to the first option.

Re:I, for one ... (1)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508650)

I can see one of these on every airport table some years from now.

Not having to get under your desk to plug that damn AC/DC adapter. This might not be power over air... but it's a HUGE improvement indeed.

Health Risks? (1)

Cinnamon Whirl (979637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507108)

I wonder if there are any health risks associated with this? I often hear storys about people living near power lines being more at risk from leukemia, for example - this may be lower voltage, but if your sat right on top of it....

Re:Health Risks? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511598)

Oh, no, this is perfectly safe. Well, mostly safe. You see, by talking on your cell phone and sitting right next to your wireless laptop while using your bluetooth keyboard and mouse, the incremental exposure of these charging systems will change your liklihood of getting radiation induced cancers from 1.00 to 1.00. As they say - don't sweat the small stuff!

Hardly revolutionary (2, Insightful)

Rabid Spud (957863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507128)

when you consider that the key to this device actually operating is that your device needs to be "fitted internally or externally with an adapter... ". Unless this also acts as a transformer then its pretty much useless. I can't see manufactures integrating internal adaptors in their devices either since it increases the device size and introduces heat.

Re:Hardly revolutionary (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509524)

So let me get this right. So instead of being a frustrated consumer because I'm spending $6.00 for a new power adaptor each time I get a new phone/MP3 player/etc. I now can get frustrated over buying a proprietary inductive coil pick-up unit that I have to jury-rig to the back of my already too small phone/MP3 player...and likely spend 3 times the amount.

If IEEE or someone introduced an open standard for this type of technology, then perhaps it has a much better chance at taking off and being adopted, but as long as developing companies continue with the "this is our super-secret, Tesla-like, magic energy transfer system," it just isn't going to get off the ground.

On something related, how inefficient is the coupling mechanism? There's been some light rumblings in the news about how much power is wasted by wall transformers when not in use. I wonder how this would compare out? Does the reduced efficiency in the inductive coupling means that is only on when its being used outweight the loss of direct connection from a half-dozen wall transformers that people usually leave plugged in? Incidentally, many conventional wall transformers are being replaced by wall micro switching supplies, that go into a power-saving standby more when not in use. Are we promoting a puported user comfort over additional power comsumption? Then again, it could be considered trivial since it may only amount to a $0.25 difference on a typical electricity bill.

Then, of course, you'll eventually get the Electromagnetic freaks coming after these and denouncing them as causing cancer or something. I'll just tell the one I know to go set a bridge rectifier on top of it and it will solve her problem (she wears switching diodes in her bra to reduce harmful electromagnet radiation!).

Bottom line: Don't forget the unintended consequences and implications, I guess

Where am I (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17507134)

... and WTF is the deal with all these black top hats scattered around in the woods?

Re:Where am I (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17507756)

I don't know, but the cats sure are delicious!

Microwave power transmission (5, Interesting)

dino213b (949816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507162)

(Or MPT) is an actual working technology already in use - I seem to recall a small experimental, remotely controlled, airplane that was powered this way. A ground microwave dish followed it as it moved across the sky and that powered the motors and other scientific experiments. On the other hand, a stationary object such as a cell phone shouldn't have a problem being powered in a dedicated recharge zone (such as a counter or shelf that would be designated as a human-unsafe area). Wikipedia claims that power transmission efficiencies and radiation are mostly negligible -- if so, does that mean that we should be going after it or is there inherent danger to the process? mission []

Re:Microwave power transmission (1)

allscan (1030606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507184)

Just remember in SimCity 2000 when the microwave beam (from the microwave power plant) missed and burnt down your city.

Re:Microwave power transmission (1)

clacke (214199) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509000)

If power transmission efficiencies are negligible, I say we look to improve them before we try to use this on a larger scale...

Re:Microwave power transmission (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509632)

Someone did something similar using a high-powered LASER to levitate an object. The LASER basically hit a specially designed absorption surface that heated the air in close proximity, causing rapid expansion, thus producing thrust much like a rocket motor. Of course the problem was that anything that got in between the path of the LASER and the object was pretty much toasted.

Re:Microwave power transmission (1)

dino213b (949816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510004)

Sure, but that was a propulsion mechanism, not a way to power your cell phone. Perhaps a way to launch your cell phone into space?

Re:Microwave power transmission (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510184)

Sometimes, I sure wish I could!

Wireless Power through Magnetic Induction (1)

shadanan (806810) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518130)

More than likely, battery companies would first have to agree on a standard way of building their batteries. They could then sacrifice some battery real-estate to the induction charger. For the consumer, they would have a choice between a longer lasting battery, and a wireless rechargeable battery.

Wrong era for this technology (0, Offtopic)

Rorian (88503) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507188)

This stuff would (perhaps) have been really neat 10-20 years ago. Now we really need to start thinking hard about saving power in every way possible way (Global warming and all that..), and creating a technology that is only ~40% efficient (last time I looked) is NOT the way to achieve that, even for small, low-power devices.

Great idea, don't even consider bringing it to mass-market, unless you're bringing fusion power as well.

Re:Wrong era for this technology (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17507252)

Electricity doesn't cause global warming. Stupidity in generation of electricity does. If you live somewhere smart (such as Ontario) where more than 50% of your power comes from sources other than hydrocarbons and dams, you aren't damaging the environment at all. Ontario, while it does have occasional power issues, generally has such an excess of electricity we export it to the US all the time.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of Ontario's power does not come from hydroelectric, wind, or solar power, proving that if you follow Ontario's lead anyone can have enough electricity anywhere.

Ontario, Canada, at least, will be a much cleaner place when everything turns electric. Keep it beautiful, indeed!

Re:Wrong era for this technology (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507696)

where does the other 60% go when your device is 40% efficient ?

Re:Wrong era for this technology (1)

EMeta (860558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507998)

Waste heat energy, like pretty much all inefficiencies. Now if you're using this at an antarctic research lab, voila! it's not wasted at all!

Re:Wrong era for this technology (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509840)

Waste heat energy, like pretty much all inefficiencies.

That's the interesting part - the heat is only "wasted" outside of the heating season. During the heating season, it just contributes to home heating energy and reduces your heating tab, slightly. So, depending on your climate, only 30-40% of the energy may go to waste, not the full 60%.


Re:Wrong era for this technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17517026)

you aren't damaging the environment at all

Unfortunately those very clever CANDU nuclear reactors have two large inputs that do not come for free, environmentally speaking: reactor grade deuterated water and slightly enriched uranium.

To be economical, both of these raw inputs are heavily processed, and the chemistry involved produces considerable pollution, particularly the hydrogen sulphide producing Girdler process used by AECL in the production of Canada's current stores of heavy water. Uranium mining and also produces big holes in the ground in the Athabasca basin (Saskatchewan) that tend to fill with water that leaches heavy metals out of processed and discarded rock and into groundwater, streams, and so forth.

AECL's newer designs are both more efficient and less environmentally hazardous, but they are still not exactly good for the environment, even if sum of greenhouse gas emissions -- especially carbon dioxide -- for the entire project's lifetime (including equipment and materials used in building the reactor) is dwarfed by a fossil fuel plant of similar capacity or a large dam which will use much more portland cement in its construction than a large CANDU facility will.

Finally, sunk costs (pardon the expression) almost certainly favour dams, other than the initial disruption of a watershed during damn construction, there is almost no environmental impact throughout a dam's lifetime. Keeping an older nuclear or fossil fuel power station operating continues to produce waste and emissions, respectively.

Dams, on the other hand, usually have by far the worst and most deadly catastrophic failure modes of any variety of commercial power generation, the Chernobyl disaster notwithstanding.

Re:Wrong era for this technology (1)

erniegs (1048536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17524250)

We have known about environmental damage for at least 50 years. Conservationists say No to hydroelectric, wind, or solar power, no fossil fuels; petroleum, coal, natural gas or methane. It appears that we have no way to protect the environment; yet we have to exist. What is the best method? I would vote for Methane, however, that would damage the environment. (This does get ridiculous!) Ernie, Columbus, Ohio (Even today.................GO BUCKEYES)

Re:Wrong era for this technology (1)

tcgroat (666085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507574)

That's a good point, and one that is likely to make these devices a market failure. They will have a hard time meeting the EPA's charger efficiency standards [] . Manufacturers are working hard to meet these levels without the additional loss in the split transformer. Failing to meet these "voluntary" standard locks you out of federal contracts, and the general market in places where efficiency standards are mandatory (California).

But this is the Era of Wall-Warts (1)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507736)

I am counting.... 5 wall-warts, 11 plugs, and one "in-line" wart-on-the-floor. And a UPS on the floor (only two plugs, no warts). Three power bars, and two separate wall outlets.

And that's just in my office space.

I am sick of this (unsightly) rigging. Yes, I will tolerate a higher power bill to eliminate it.

Re:But this is the Era of Wall-Warts (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509900)

I am sick of this (unsightly) rigging. Yes, I will tolerate a higher power bill to eliminate it.

What about standardizing low-voltage electronics at 5V and 12V input voltages whenever possible? Then you could have a big switcher power supply with, say, a dozen outputs to power everything on your desk.


Just another gadget? (1)

JHWH (1046444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507544)

Wall outlet chargers are usually shipped along with the gadgets.
Car chargers usually are sold for a couple of bucks or little more.
USB chargers are getting more and more adopted and costs are dropping.
So I'd say the wireless (but not touchless) charger is more likely to be another gadget than some real new solution.
First you have to buy new gadgets that support such a charging technology.
Then if you need to charge more gadgets you'll need a larger charger ...

Re:Just another gadget? (1)

cweber (34166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17514536)

I thought the same initially. But consider a world where one of these wireless charging technologies becomes a widely used standard. Good-bye gadgets, hello universal recharging! It's all about standards, simple ones if possible. Wireless just adds another convenience factor.

Now if we could also standardize wall outlets worldwide...

wireless chargers VS wireless power supply (1)

JHWH (1046444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507626)

The latter would be a real advance in technology!
I use a cell phone for one week and recharge it for 1 hour a week.

The wireless Desk (2, Interesting)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507774)

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

basically expand the computer to include your entire desk, without all the annoying wires

A low power standard is what we need (1)

hey (83763) | more than 7 years ago | (#17507938)

We need a low power standard (maybe its USB). So can all have many nice small plugs on the edge of our desks to plugin phones, PDAs, etc.

Potential danger (0, Offtopic)

Chris whatever (980992) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508102)

what i'm wondering is how large is the magnetic field that this induction device do? They are still looking at the possibility that the magnetic fields created by power lines may create problem like cancer and stuff. We already have a screen and other low emitting devices in our offices and they are considered dangerous, what if we have something that emit a larger magnetic field for recharge? I guess it would have to be powerful enough to recharge a battery in a acceptable delay or to just be able to make the recharge possible. Or maybe they already found a material sensitive enough that react with low electrical emission? Anyways, wont see me recreate the Manhattan project in my office ;)

Re:Potential danger (1)

DrLex (811382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509340)

I guess the field will be of a quite low frequency, and AFAIK, it has been proven that low-frequency magnetic fields are harmless.
Next to my concerns about magnetic media (see post below [] ), I have more concerns about the power consumption when there are no devices on the charge pad. My guess is that there will be an inevitable amount of idle power consumption, because there's no such thing as a zero-impedance coil (yet). Of course this could be fixed by turning off the pad when it doesn't detect any devices during a certain period, and periodically sending a pulse to check for new devices (or just an 'activate' button).

Charge Pads = The future. (1)

shirizaki (994008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508124)

Especially if the rate of charge is standard. The applpications are limitless:

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

Then if microwaves become reality....ooooo.

Imagine a world not dependent on batteries (or that batteries are officially for backup). A world where technology is ran without any wires. It runs on the energy in the air, it syns with radio waves, and it broadcasts wirelessly.

My great grantkids will be so lucky. When I was their age we had to plug in our headphones and plug our music players in to charge. And we only had 60 GB of storage space, not 500TB!

Re:Charge Pads = The future. (1)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509470)

Microwaves are a reality, and we use them to cook our food all the time.

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

I've heard stories of workers back in the day standing in front of some big microwave antennas on a mountain near here to keep warm, and using it to cook hot dogs on a stick. I'm not sure as to the validity of the stories, or why they wouldn't make the connection between the hot dogs cooking and them being warm, but there you have it...

eCoupled intelligent wireless power looks good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17508166)

The Fulton Innovation eCoupled technology looks very promising. If Motorola, Visteon, Mobility and Herman Miller are backing it, you can expect tons of others to follow. Those are four companies that spend a lot of time doing due diligence before they commit to any given technology.

If I can drop my iPod and my RAZR into a cubbie in my car and charge them both wirelessly, I for one will be a very happy man. I'm so sick of losing or forgetting chargers or having them break a connector.

Induction and hard drives (1)

DrLex (811382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17508832)

So then you have a 90Watt electromagnet on your desk. Has anyone wondered yet what will happen to hard disks/microdrives inside laptops and MP3 players?

Re:Induction and hard drives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17509918)

So then you have a 90Watt electromagnet on your desk. Has anyone wondered yet what will happen to hard disks/microdrives inside laptops and MP3 players?

I'm sure noone ever thought of that before. You're a real innovator.

p.s. the magnetic coercivity of modern hard drive media is sufficient that you can't degauss the platters without removing them from the shell, at which point it's easier to simply destroy them.

Re:Induction and hard drives (1)

DrLex (811382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511268)

The fact that you're posting this as an AC and the impressive list of references really make me want to believe you. Maybe you've accidentally clicked the AC button while trying to paste a link to ings/sec96/full_papers/gutmann/ []
That paper talks about securely destroying data. There's a rather big difference between destroying every single bit on a hard disk in a way that it's impossible to recover, and causing a few tiny errors which force the user to run diagnostic tools all the time or send their disks to an expensive recovery center. Also, people will likely want to use their devices while charging them. Nothing is said about the effects of an oscillating magnetic field on read & write operations.

Re:Induction and hard drives (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511058)

Probably not much. Hard drives have builtin magnets of their own, after all.

This caught my interest the other day; I got several gizmos (shake-to-charge flashlight and a "Magnetix" construction kit toy) that contain pretty powerful magnets. My office still has a lot of old magnetic media around -- floppy disks, cassette tapes -- so I had to pay attention to where I put them, but it occurs to me that those are both pretty obsolete media, being replaced by optical or semiconductor (ie flash) memory. I found it interesting that the apparent rise in use of strong magnets in all kinds of gizmos (I even have a cardboard box with a magnetic latch) seems to have coincided with the decline in the use of portable magnetic media.

I don't know if that's deliberate or just fortuitous coincidence.

(BTW, the sensitivity of any magnetic media to stray magnetic fields is somewhat overblown. I've got a bulk eraser that puts out a pretty hefty field and still have had tapes and floppies survive short exposures. OTOH, it only takes a few bad bits in the wrong place to make the media unusable. (Less so with analog recordings, where you just get a noise burst or sound/image degradation).

Re:Induction and hard drives (1)

DrLex (811382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511542)

My experience with floppies and cassettes is that it's pretty easy to make them completely unusable with a magnet to the point where they can't be re-formatted or re-recorded. Then again, the magnet I used was a pretty strong U-shaped one, and I didn't just put it 'in the vicinity' of the media, if you know what I mean ;)
Anyhow, we're talking about static magnetic fields here. A wireless power system needs to use an oscilating field, which is a different story. For the rotating platters of a HD, the static magnet in the head assembly indeed produces an oscillating field, but this magnet is shielded very well. And indeed, flipping only a few bits can ruin a lot. By the way, if magnetic fields are so harmless to hard disks, then where are all the YouTube videos of people waving strong magnets over their hard drives? ;)

Re:Induction and hard drives (1)

josephdrivein (924831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512536)

So then you have a 90Watt electromagnet on your desk. Has anyone wondered yet what will happen to hard disks/microdrives inside laptops and MP3 players?

Has anyone wondered yet what will happen to you?
A microwave radiation of 90W is really a lot, especially if you spend a lot of time in the nearbies. That's a LOT more than the power emitted by your wireless card or bluethoot adapter. Those devices will never be available commercially in Europe, that's because they will never get a CE mark because of obvious EM compatibility issues. I guess they are probably even dangerous for your health.

I'm actually wondering if those devices really exists. I seem to recall there was a Apr 1st joke on engadget that sounded very similar to this... I can't find it right now...

Question (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509224)

I have a silly question that'll no doubt expose my ignorance on the matter. With this sort of power, is there a lot of electricity wasted? In other words, would my electric bill go up for the same amount of charging?

Re:Question (1)

DrLex (811382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510392)

This question is not as silly as you think. Considering efficiency, nothing can beat a direct wired connection, but the question is how much losses this wireless method will induce (no pun intended). Assuming that the cable is well-dimensioned, a simple wired mains adaptor has only one point where losses occur, being the adaptor circuitry itself (there may be some additional regulation in the device itself, but this could be seen as part of the adaptor). A wireless system like this has 4 places where losses occur:
  1. the driver circuitry for the coil (which turns mains power into a magnetic field),
  2. the resistance of the coil itself,
  3. the resistance of the receiver coil in the device,
  4. the driver circuitry in the device (which generates clean power from the unclean induced current).
That't not everything, however. More losses could be caused by eddy currents in ferromagnetic objects in the vicinity of the pad (or in the devices themselves). You'll probably not want to place this kind of pad on an iron desk. The big question is of course how large each of all these losses are...

Not the most obvious solution here (1)

asc99c (938635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509430)

I don't really think a wire to charge something is major hassle. However, having a wire for a Nokia 6233, another for an older Nokia, one for a Sony camera, one for a portable flash to HDD reader, one for an Icy Box portable HDD, etc. Yeah that's a bit tiresome.

Rather than some induction thing like this, I would rather have most devices chargeable from a standard connector - a USB-type standard for power. The new Nokia connector is tiny - I can't imagine any device it wouldn't fit. I'd just rather have everything use that or AA batteries. It's going to be more efficient than induction too.

Solar panel technology (1)

The_Pariah (991496) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509548)

I wonder how the basic idea of solar power panels could work. For example, calculators, etc are powered wireless/touchless. Seems like this could be a possibility, although probably inefficient.

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

Re:Solar panel technology (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510078)

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

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


hey, look at me! (1)

jaimz22 (932159) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509618)

I too have invented a wireless power source, it's very convenient, and I comes in multiple form factors to work with already existing devices. it's relatively cheap, very safe, and once again requires no wires at all. I call them batteries!

Re:hey, look at me! (1)

DrLex (811382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510640)

I have invented something which contains all kinds of polluting toxic chemicals, is empty at the most inconvenient times, takes quite a lot of time to recharge, has a proprietary form factor for many devices, hence is often expensive or hard to replace. I call them batteries too, what a coincidence! :p

I wouldn't hate batteries so much if each new gadget wouldn't be using its own proprietary battery with corresponding proprietary charger, or built-in battery which is nearly impossible to replace. I know AAA batteries have become unsuitable for many devices, but how hard can it be to make new standard small form factors for Li-ion batteries?

Re:hey, look at me! (1)

jaimz22 (932159) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516336)

agreed proprietary stuff sucks!. all it means for us is more soldering and wires to deal with since we're too lazy to go buy new batteries :P i've got a new flashlight that used A123 li-ion batteries... thier odd

Okay steal this one from me and patent it (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17509822)

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

Imagine a "pad" that was made up of a grid of anchored stainless steel ball bearings. Devices would have conductive contact surfaces that incidentally make contact in some fashion when placed on the pad. A microprocessor senses a decrease in resistance and routes 5V between two or more appropriate points on the grid, powering the device. The device would be responsible to step up/down to the appropriate voltage. The pad would have overcurrent and thermal protection to prevent damage and fire due to something like a coin or a twist-tie being dropped onto the pad.

As a feature to tell that a connection has been established, as well as part of the "cool factor" Put LEDs into the grid that are switched on by the microprocessor when a connection has been established.

Okay, the downsides, as I look into with every idea: Those nice leather cases would have to go, or otherwise be redesigned. Also, if you use contacts that corrode easily, then you may have a problem, too. Then there's the potential for scratches on the case of whatever you're charging from coming in contact with the metal ball surfaces.

Just a silly idea I guess...Think of it as the ultimate universal drop-in charger

But is it practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510122)

Unless there has been a complete repeal of the laws of physics then communication by induction will be subject to the law of inverse know reduction of power by the square of the distance. Tesla seemed to think that this law could be broken, but as to date the transmission of power of any sort by induction is very dependent upon distance, regardless of frequency. However if you believe all the 8hrz hype about alpha waves.... get your tin foil hats ready cause here we come. The claims here sound like the hoopla around nt []

Re:But is it practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17511940)

Unless there has been a complete repeal of the laws of physics then communication by induction will be subject to the law of inverse know reduction of power by the square of the distance

Naively, that would seem to be the case, but look to A.C. resonance effects. Then power transmission is much more effective. See [] .

The bad thing is (1)

SlashdotCrackPot (1019530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510470)

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


Wireless power? Don't stand inbetween that. (1)

Arcanis the Rogue (910060) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511494)

Puppy! No!


RF magnetic field limits...Cooking your 'nads. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17512470)

wireless tingling

Look up the ICNIRP and IEEE C95 limits.


A pad on my desk about 8" from my 'nads and about 12" from my brain.
Best of all, about 6" from my heart.

While magnetic fields fall of rapidly, this is a recipe for litigation. Cell phone basestations have nothing on this.

I guess it would be possile to make a 4th order gradiometer which might help....

Applications with Electric cars? (1)

KoldKompress (1034414) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512592)

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

Great idea (1)

kahrytan (913147) | more than 7 years ago | (#17514750)

  This type of device would go great for airlines and trays. One can use portable devices longer and recharge when needed right there on the plane.

Funny how time changes a joke's meaning (2, Funny)

A_Non_Moose (413034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17515176)

I recall some fellow techs were working with building planning (.edu) to try
and get a conference room wired for power/networks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


More basic than that (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516684)

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

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

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

I have a cell phone that uses a combination charger/data cable plug on the bottom of it. The plug is a mini-USB plug. I can plug the phone into the charger, and it charges, 12 volts. I can plug the phone into a USB data cable on my Linux laptop, and it charges. But strangely, not if I'm running Windows or OSX. Also, I can't charge it using an iPod charger - it specifically says "unauthorized charger".

WTF? Why would they do this?

Re:More basic than that (1)

asc99c (938635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17520952)

If that's a Motorola phone, I believe you can download some free software that will allow charging. Check their website. I had one a while back but various annoyances caused me to send it back within a couple of days and go back to Nokia.

Seems nifty but are there any drawbacks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17516940)

Induction coil + RFID + smart-charging circuitry = some nifty device

But one concern is what effect could an induction coil have on magnetic storage media? Sure it might be able to recharge an MP3 player, but what if it also happens to degauss the HDD? Or is the required EM shielding really not that much?

Using the device and Charging at the same time (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517702)

It would be really cool to through anything on to a pad to recharge it but one thing keeps nagging at me that nobody ever seems to ask:

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