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Future Desks to Charge Gadgets Wirelessly

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the much-better-than-hope-and-batteries dept.

Power 111

IronMan writes "Future desks may allow us to charge our phones, iPods, PDAs and other gadgets wirelessly. Office equipment maker Herman Miller is one of the first companies to license the eCoupled inductive coupling technology from Fulton Innovation, Engadget reports. The desk will allows wireless transfer of energy through a magnetic field. Motorola is working together with eCoupled, but still is not sure when the first consumer devices with this technology will appear on the market. From the article: 'Of course, cordless charging isn't an entirely new concept, with HP recently showing off some of its own ideas for juiced-up furniture, and Splashpower talking up its charge-on-contact system for a few years now. We guess we'll just have to wait and see if this new power-happy desk becomes the same status symbol for the Web 2.0 crowd that Herman Miller's Aeron chair was back in Web 1.0 days -- assuming we haven't moved on to Web 3.0 by the time the desk actually comes out, that is.'"

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Health concerns (2, Interesting)

rossdee (243626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696392)

Is anyone worried about what the effects might be on the person sitting at the desk? Long term exposure to magnetic radiation may cause cancer...

Re:Health concerns (2, Funny)

Asm-Coder (929671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696424)

I don't buy that. Strong Magnetic fields can be dangerous, (see my credit card example below) but I've never heard of harmful medical effects due to magnetic fields. (it's not really radiation) However, Life is known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects, so, don't buy this desk if you live in California.

Re:Health concerns (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17696556)

Your opinion, as stated, gives the impression of there being no evidence whatsoever, due to the fact that "you" have not "heard" of any harmfull medical effects due to magnetic fields, and total ignorance (and scepticism) of any potential mechanism at all, which is far from a balanced reflection of the actual evidence at this time in the scientific community.

Re:Health concerns (5, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696760)

Your opinion, as stated, gives the impression of there being no evidence whatsoever, due to the fact that "you" have not "heard" of any harmfull medical effects due to magnetic fields, and total ignorance (and scepticism) of any potential mechanism at all, which is far from a balanced reflection of the actual evidence at this time in the scientific community.
OK, how about this: Over the last 100+ years of exposure to magnetic fields, the closest anyone has come to finding a statistical link between low-grade magnetic fields and any health problems is the now-famous study showing a correlation between leukemia and living under power lines--- but the notion of a causal link between the two is spurious at best. Studies of MRI technician, aluminum foundry workers, and electrical linesmen have shown no health effects that can be linked to their exposure to magnetic fields, and they are exposed to fields many times greater than you'd ever see from an inductively coupling charging system. Studies so far [nih.gov] have shown that there is little negative reaction by organic systems to magnetic fields.

The problem here is that you are asking for proof of a negative. You see, in science, when someone asserts the condition X may have effect Y out of the blue like that, the only proper response is "I have seen no evidence of this, so unless you can show evidence of a link, I must assume it to be false". Claiming "just because it's not proven doesn't mean it's not true" is foolish and childlike. Claims must be supported by proof. The burden is not on the rest of the world to disprove. Science is built on facts, not speculations. Logical thinking--- it works!

It still amazes me how many people there are out there that apparently need this explained to them.

Re:Health concerns (2, Interesting)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697222)

I think the health concerns have more to do with a lack of understanding magnetism than a lack of understanding proofs of a negative. People have a natural fear of the unknown. We don't yet understand magnetism and if/how our own bodies use it. Think about in the past, people were afraid if they sailed too far they would fall off the edge of the earth. They had no proof of this, but they also had no understanding of the way the world worked. Although I admit magnetism is a bit different, the natural fear of the unknown is there.

Re:Health concerns (3, Funny)

beaverfever (584714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697246)

Yeah, but can I expect a positive or negative effect from the tin foil in my hat?

Re:Health concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17697450)

This is entirely tangential, since I have no worries about magnetic fields, but...

The problem here is that you are asking for proof of a negative. You see, in science, when someone asserts the condition X may have effect Y out of the blue like that, the only proper response is "I have seen no evidence of this, so unless you can show evidence of a link, I must assume it to be false". Claiming "just because it's not proven doesn't mean it's not true" is foolish and childlike. Claims must be supported by proof. The burden is not on the rest of the world to disprove. Science is built on facts, not speculations. Logical thinking--- it works!

Until I can back up my consciousness and restore it to a fully functioning body, I do need a certain assurance before assuming that something will not hurt me. I don't think you would wander out into the forest and eat random mushrooms because you have no evidence that that particular one will hurt you. Sure, you know that there exist mushrooms that can cause death if you consume them, but there are also "mystery technomagical forces" that can cause similar harm (say, radiation).

Of course the rational response is research and not fear, but here you are responding to a question, which is a form of research.

Re:Health concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17697558)

"OK, how about this: Over the last 100+ years of exposure to magnetic fields, the closest anyone has come to finding a statistical link between low-grade magnetic fields and any health problems is the now-famous study showing a correlation between leukemia and living under power lines--- but the notion of a causal link between the two is spurious at best."

First of all, it is my opinion that you may be mistaken about this fact. My opinion is based upon other peoples (scientists) as yet unfinished scientific studies. Secondly "100+" years means nothing, things that are thought as safe often get proven to be dangerous, remember Marie Curie's glowing potato shed?

"Studies of MRI technician, aluminum foundry workers, and electrical linesmen have shown no health effects that can be linked to their exposure to magnetic fields, and they are exposed to fields many times greater than you'd ever see from an inductively coupling charging system. Studies so far [nih.gov] have shown that there is little negative reaction by organic systems to magnetic fields."

Secondly, You quote three very valid types of employment who do work in close vacinity to magnetic fields. However, exposure assesments based on job title are a very crude method of assessing exposure due to the possibility of exposure misclassification. Also I used to string large electricity pylons I am still alive, I hope we both agree this prooves nothing.

"Studies so far [nih.gov] have shown that there is little negative reaction by organic systems to magnetic fields."

Sorry, but this realy means nothing to me. Please supply document addresses, rather than just a URL so I can "understand" what documents you are on about.

"The problem here is that you are asking for proof of a negative."

That was not my intention, I appoligise.

You see, in science, when someone asserts the condition X may have effect Y out of the blue like that, the only proper response is "I have seen no evidence of this, so unless you can show evidence of a link, I must assume it to be false".

My response would be - "Theory, Hypothesis or Proof based?", I would find this out before patronising them.

"Claiming "just because it's not proven doesn't mean it's not true" is foolish and childlike."

Then I am both. Moreso because I shall not stop being both whilst being in acceptance of this "fact".

"Claims must be supported by proof."

Do you believe this realy, when peoples lifes are in danger? Many medical cures are in opperation without proof.

"The burden is not on the rest of the world to disprove."

Interesting point of view, up to a point.

"Science is built on facts, not speculations."

I agree, especially when one considers SCENIHR, - Opinion on possible effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Human Health.

Maybe you should take the time to "peer review" their published documentation on "Public Health Risk Assessment" of the above subject, published in the last 2 years, pay attention to the terms used.

"Logical thinking--- it works!"

OK, I shall look this up in my diary. Oh. I mean dictionary.

"It still amazes me how many people there are out there that apparently need this explained to them."

Yeah yummy.
Me too.

Don't get me wrong, im not point scoring or trying to be a troll. I have spent quite some time in engineering and have dabbled in a few physics labs. I believe that the data that shall become available very soon to change many peoples opinions over this matter. Keyword of the year - "MELATONIN".

To the poster below, Religion? Did I even mention "praying not to get cancer"? eh?

Re:Health concerns (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17698430)

To but into this discussion of yours, your counters are not convincing and extremely weak. For instance claims of research that will come some time soon to prove them wrong is meaningless within science. Such claims would only be believed from trusted sources and only to the point of that point possibly being true. Claims that someone else should find the work for you is unreasonable, other people are not here to helpfully feed you the information you need.

In this case the grandparent was nice enough to already give you a place to look and I suppose to give an extra hand, you could try looking in pubmed as well, considering it contains alot of freely accesible articles next to the less freely accessible ones.

I will also add my voice to the grandparents one in stating that all research I've ever encountered on magnetic influences on biological organisms and humans in specific have shown no harmful effects except in special circumstances (which was shown in a Russian research I believe). In practice this situation doesn't appear to occur though as checking on all people who are affected shows no effects at all, the previously quoted leukemia research was later shown to be in error as well. As such unless you can show actual real evidence of some kind of appliance causing actual harm or has a real chance of causing harm, I have little choice but to not take your word for it.

Re:Health concerns (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17700190)

My opinion is based upon other peoples (scientists) as yet unfinished scientific studies. Secondly "100+" years means nothing,
Show me the proof. This is really very simple. In 100+ years of strong magnetic fields, no one has yet shown proof of serious ill effects from magnetism. You believe in "unfinished scientific studies", which you haven't shown to us or even named. Claims demand proof.

things that are thought as safe often get proven to be dangerous, remember Marie Curie's glowing potato shed?
The cancer causing effects of radiation were noticed as early as 1902, a mere 4 years after the Curies began their experiments. What was not known was how much radiation was harmful, and how radioactive various things were.

Secondly, You quote three very valid types of employment who do work in close vacinity to magnetic fields. However, exposure assesments based on job title are a very crude method of assessing exposure due to the possibility of exposure misclassification. Also I used to string large electricity pylons I am still alive, I hope we both agree this prooves nothing.
WTF are you talking about? Are you saying that finding no particular increased incidence of illness in a group of people most of which work around high powered magnetic fields is not a meaningful observation? Why is selection based on job title (when job title obviously indicates exposure) not valid? What selection criteria should we be using? Star Trek nerds vs general population? Bearded ladies at sideshows vs general population?

"Studies so far [nih.gov] have shown that there is little negative reaction by organic systems to magnetic fields."

Sorry, but this realy means nothing to me. Please supply document addresses, rather than just a URL so I can "understand" what documents you are on about.
You're kidding, right? You know how hyperlinking works, don't you? Go back and look at my post. Notice how "studies so far" is underlined? That means you can click on it and, in this case, it leads to the actual reports. Here, allow me to give you the full address, itself hyperlinked to the report as well:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd= Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7033311&dopt=Citation [nih.gov]

My response would be - "Theory, Hypothesis or Proof based?", I would find this out before patronising them.
Ummm....what? Those are not three different categories, those are three terms used when describing the scientific method as a whole. Theories are the overall idea, detailed by one or more hypotheses, supported by proof.

Then I am both. Moreso because I shall not stop being both whilst being in acceptance of this "fact".

"Claims must be supported by proof."

Do you believe this realy, when peoples lifes are in danger?
Until you can provide even a couple credible examples of people who have been harmed by magnetic fields, the danger is imaginary. I believe it's no more a danger than tomatoes, rock n' roll, and women's bare arms are a danger to morality--- and yet all those things were at one time seen as a threat. Seriousness of the charge has no bearing on the validity of the assertion. I believe your favorite shirt causes blindness to 78% of those who look upon it. Are you really going to continue wearing that shirt when it so clearly poses a danger to over 3/4 the population? You fiend!

Many medical cures are in opperation without proof.
Proof of what? That they cure? Aren't the cured people proof? Or if they don't cure, then what? The presence of useless medical procedures shows that magnetism causes cancer?

"The burden is not on the rest of the world to disprove."

Interesting point of view, up to a point.
Up to what point? The point when it collides with your bizarre beliefs and demands that you show proof? At what supposed point is it reasonable to ask that everyone just trust your feelings rather than ask for evidence?

"Science is built on facts, not speculations."

I agree, especially when one considers SCENIHR, - Opinion on possible effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Human Health.

Maybe you should take the time to "peer review" their published documentation on "Public Health Risk Assessment" of the above subject, published in the last 2 years, pay attention to the terms used.
I've read it, and I've also read the response by the European Commission Health and Consumer Protectorate-General [bris.ac.uk] . Note also that the first document you cite is an opinion, not a study. In this case, like so many others, opinions are like you-know-what.

Don't get me wrong, im not point scoring or trying to be a troll. I have spent quite some time in engineering and have dabbled in a few physics labs.
I find that hard to believe. Your inability to separate personal conviction from logical reasoning, plus your repeated use of the terms "I believe" and "my opinion" in a discussion about scientific study belie the mindset of a classic "I saw it on TV" type rather than an engineer or physicist.

I believe that the data that shall become available very soon to change many peoples opinions over this matter.
Be that as it may, until you can actually produce that data, your opinions are merely that: opinions. The rest of us don't have to pretend you're right

Keyword of the year - "MELATONIN".
Keyword of the YEAR, eh? The effect of lowering melatonin has been well publicized for over a decade. The very most that can be said is "magnetic fields can reduce melatonin in the body, and melatonin reduces the proliferation of certain cancer cells". Hardly the equivalent of "harmful". Most of the crap with definitive claims that turns up when you google "melatonin magnetism" is new age quackery. Let us know when your unnamed study is complete, and maybe then we'll take your claims seriously.

Re:Health concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17702060)

Claims demand proof.
Yes. ALL claims demand proof, even your claim that a relationship is false DEMANDS proof, to any reasonable person. The onus or burden is on anyone who makes a claim to prove that claim to their interlocutor, positive OR negative. Your statements about being asked to prove the negative are the same irrational, book-banging routine, which I've seen thousands of times -- it's the rallying cry for the irrational members of the scientific community. If you need positive proof to form your own opinion about the veracity of a claim, fine. However, if you want to overstep that boundary and in addition, not only request positive proof, but claim now that it's false -- well, then, now YOU need to do some explaining. And simply shrugging your shoulder's and saying "I won't defend my opinion that it's, in fact, false -- rather I'll demand that you show me it's true." smacks of a immature bratty-ness, a cowardice in the face of your own disability to prove your own claims, that it's no wonder you came onto the board, condescending guns ablaze, letting your endocrine system fire off at will.

Placing the burden on others is a psychological justification for not having to do your own thinking -- how easy for you. You can just shut them off with the same over-used phrase and derivative comments. It's annoying as hell, and illogical.

Drop your own claims, and just tell others that you, personally, need proof before you will opine that something is true -- problem solved! Going overboard and making your own factual claims about falsities may work with those who don't know better, but for those of us who do...you look like a damned fool.

Re:Health concerns (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17703016)

Claims demand proof.
Yes. ALL claims demand proof, even your claim that a relationship is false DEMANDS proof, to any reasonable person. The onus or burden is on anyone who makes a claim to prove that claim to their interlocutor, positive OR negative. Your statements about being asked to prove the negative are the same irrational, book-banging routine, which I've seen thousands of times -- it's the rallying cry for the irrational members of the scientific community. If you need positive proof to form your own opinion about the veracity of a claim, fine. However, if you want to overstep that boundary and in addition, not only request positive proof, but claim now that it's false -- well, then, now YOU need to do some explaining.
I don't need to explain anything you nutcase. I didn't originate any assertions. Claims demand proof, and that starts with the first person to make an assertion! Let me explain how this works so that you can understand:

1. Person A opens mouth and makes unsupported Claim X
2. Person B hears unsupported Claim X and demands proof

Person B is not required to prove anything because Person B did not make any claims! This is simple logic! Person A cannot turn around simply say "prove it's not true", because Claim X is his assertion!

And simply shrugging your shoulder's and saying "I won't defend my opinion that it's, in fact, false -- rather I'll demand that you show me it's true." smacks of a immature bratty-ness, a cowardice in the face of your own disability to prove your own claims,
Are you insane? It's basic scientific procedure to demand proof when someone makes an unsubstantiated claim. What's childish is the claimant turning around and saying "no, you prove it's not true!"

that it's no wonder you came onto the board, condescending guns ablaze, letting your endocrine system fire off at will.
Sorry? Following established scientific protocol is a sign of glandular emotionality? It seems to me that you are the one throwing a hissy fit because I refuse to abandon basic scientific principles.

Placing the burden on others is a psychological justification for not having to do your own thinking -- how easy for you. You can just shut them off with the same over-used phrase and derivative comments. It's annoying as hell, and illogical.
What's annoying as hell is someone repeatedly demanding we all throw away the basic tenets of logical reasoning and accept the burden of disproving someone else's unfounded assertion.

Drop your own claims, and just tell others that you, personally, need proof before you will opine that something is true -- problem solved!
Again, I made no initial claim. The burden of proving an assertion falls upon the initial claimant. I'm not making up an arbitrary rule here. This is established procedure for logical argument [wikipedia.org] .

Going overboard and making your own factual claims about falsities may work with those who don't know better, but for those of us who do...you look like a damned fool.
I look like a fool for demanding proof of an unfounded claim? I even acquiesced to your demand for some proof of the negative! Let's look at what's been presented by each of us:
You: An opinion piece by someone who thinks like you, and a vague reference to an unnamed and unreleased future study you assure us will vindicate your position.
Me: A rebuttal of said opinion piece detailing it's scientific shortcomings, plus a link to actual published studies on nih.gov [nih.gov] (that's a hyperlink there; you can click on it!) detailing the very negative proof you demand!

Instead of concentrating on my demand for proof, why don't you go ahead and rebut the PubMed studies I linked to above?

Who is the real fool here?

Re:Health concerns (1)

dididothat (1043756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699464)

yes, what dun said is true. having worked in a foundry with an induction metal melting crucible, i have seen folks forget to remove metal bracelets and watch bands only to have them get instantly red hot and BRAND their likeness into the flesh of their wrists. also, having worked in a foundry for 18 years, i can guarantee i have the same six fingers and nine toes i started with...........and my ability to read minds was probably there at infancy, and just ignored on my part!

Re:Health concerns (2, Insightful)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699546)

In our risk adverse society, it is not unreasonable to expect for people to want something new to be proven to be safe vs. "well, we haven't seen any negative side effects yet, so it must be safe". "Proof" only coming with time and widespread use which introduces the chicken and the egg problem.

As a counter point to your argument, look at lead and uranium based paints. Some one correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that anyone thought there was anything wrong with lead based paint until its use was widespread enough that kids were eating it. As for uranium paints, science didn't understand radiation well, so it wasn't until later that people realized that maybe it wasn't the best thing to paint plates with.

Finally, science is not build on facts, but rather ton the idea that everything is suspect until it has been tested repeatedly. Then it, in an ideal universe, graduates to "our best understanding at the moment of what is going on". While we have a fair understanding of a lot of things, we do not know nor can we observe everything.

Re:Health concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17699718)

You're looking to get slapped by a certain someone's noodly appendage!
Now repent, and may his sauce be upon thee.
Yarrrr.

Re:Health concerns (1)

dscruggs (858714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699968)

> It still amazes me how many people there are out there that apparently need this explained to them.

The entire health supplements industry is built on this reality

Re:Health concerns (1)

fuckingsound (983190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17700678)

The health concern is very real. However, worry not, as it is being studied carefully throughout development. They have a guy who sits at and walks around the desk, who will say 'yeow!' every time he gets shocked. Unfortunately, preliminary results suggest this phenomenon to be funny to the researchers only the first 500 times.

Re:Health concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17701748)

The problem here is that you are asking for proof of a negative. You see, in science, when someone asserts the condition X may have effect Y out of the blue like that, the only proper response is "I have seen no evidence of this, so unless you can show evidence of a link, I must assume it to be false". Claiming "just because it's not proven doesn't mean it's not true" is foolish and childlike. Claims must be supported by proof. The burden is not on the rest of the world to disprove. Science is built on facts, not speculations. Logical thinking--- it works!
Assuming something is false until it's proven true is a belief structure. If someone asserts condition X may have effect Y, the only proper response is "I have seen no evidence for this, nor against it, therefore I do not know." Your response may be translated as "I have seen no evidence of this, so unless you show evidence of a link, I chose to believe that it is false, even though I do not know it to be false." Claiming "something isn't proven so it isn't true" is foolish and childlike, reserved for narrow minds unable to grasp the implications of the statement. Science is built on facts, not on speculation. Assuming something is false without evidence IS speculation. Because the evidence may not yet be available, or even unattainable. Logical thinking--- it works!

Science is a terrific way to show the how of causality. When "scientists" over-reach the basic cause-and-effect facts of their data and start drawing ontological claims out of them, it ceases to become hard science, and becomes belief.

This sort of narrow mindset may be functionally helpful to production for those thus inclined, but it is hardly "logical".

Re:Health concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17701834)

Claims must be supported by proof. The burden is not on the rest of the world to disprove.
In my eyes, anyone making ANY claim must support that claim.

You say: "That's false"
I ask: "Why do you say that?"
You say: "Because it hasn't been proven yet."

Sorry, for any rational person, this just doesn't cut it. If you say it's a fact that it's false, you need to have a better footing than "we haven't seen evidence of it yet." Because that. does. not. mean. that. it. is. false. -- it only means we have no evidence as of yet for it being true.

It still amazes me how many people there are out there that apparently need this explained to them.

Re:Health concerns (0, Flamebait)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696776)

If you have sources, give us. Otherwise stop wasting our time with religion.

Re:Health concerns (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697176)


Uhh.. have "you" "heard" of any harmful medical effects? Why assume they are there?

Perhaps the government should regulate this just like the nanobot research.. that they also don't understand but they HAVE read many sci-fi books where nanobots take over the earth so they must protect us from them.

One would think that the scientists themselves developing this stuff wouldn't do it at all if there actually was a risk.. They are trying to wirelessly charge devices, not wirelessly fry office workers.

Re:Health concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17698562)

Magnetic fields are bad if they involve technology or electronics, elsewise they are good and provide healing effects.

Re:Health concerns (2, Insightful)

zigziggityzoo (915650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696582)

You're exposed to radiation everywhere, every day.

Your cellphone, your power mains, radio signal, TV broadcasts, 2-way radios, WiFi, you name it. All of them surround you in radiation.

I'm not so concerned about adding one more source.

Re:Health concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17696592)

Look at ICNRP and IEEE C95.1

Re:Health concerns (4, Funny)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696620)

But I thought magnetic waves were supposed to heal injuries [indiangyan.com] , not cause them! You are destroying my worldview -- you must be one of those scienti... I mean terrorists that are eradicating the American way of life!
Shoo! SHOO!

Mod Parent Ignorant (1)

damian cosmas (853143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696734)

Ever had an MRI? Ever noticed that the radiologist ain't hiding behind anything like the X-Ray guy does?

"Magnetic radiation" isn't strong enough to make or break chemical bonds. Now certain kinds of electro-magnetic radiation *are* harmful, like gamma rays, X-rays, UV, and even visible light. But magnetic fields by themselves aren't going to do much more than erase your credit cards and put your protons in excited spin states.

Now if they were using Tesla coils to recharge stuff wirelessly, then I'd be worried.

Re:Mod Parent Ignorant (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696934)

Yes, the "magnetic radiation" is not strong enough to break chemical bonds but it may still affect the nervous system or other systems of the body. It is try that there is a _correlation_ between living under power lines and incidents of leukemia (maybe people who live under power lines are poor and eat crappy foods and therefore get leukemia?).

And is also true that individuals who are exposed to magnetic radiation in their workplace have not been found to be worse off than everyone else. Therefore one cannot claim that low frequency EM radiation is completely safe or definitely harmful. It's still up in the air. I personally think that particular frequencies might be more harmful than others. Say 50Hz might be safe but 120Hz might cause you to hallucinate or something like that.

Re:Mod Parent Ignorant (1)

pnot (96038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17698618)

It is try that there is a _correlation_ between living under power lines and incidents of leukemia (maybe people who live under power lines are poor and eat crappy foods and therefore get leukemia?)

It is still disputed (last I heard, Childhood Cancer Research Group says yes but Childhood Cancer Study says no). But even in the case of the CCRG, neither of the hypotheses they advanced to explain their findings had anything to do with magnetic fields.

And is also true that individuals who are exposed to magnetic radiation in their workplace have not been found to be worse off than everyone else.

Reference, please?

Therefore one cannot claim that low frequency EM radiation is completely safe or definitely harmful.

Indeed, it is hard to claim that anything is completely safe. But since hundreds of scientists have spent over a quarter of a century intensively seeking a link between power-line EMFs and cancer, and *still* haven't got anything approaching a conclusive result, I'm not going to be ripping out my mains wiring any time soon.

Re:Mod Parent Ignorant (1)

pnot (96038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17700212)

>> individuals who are exposed to magnetic radiation in their workplace have not been found to be worse off than everyone else.

> Reference, please?

Urp. Please ignore that. I missed your "not" on my first reading :-).

Re:Mod Parent Ignorant (2, Informative)

damian cosmas (853143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17698876)

Yes, the "magnetic radiation" is not strong enough to break chemical bonds but it may still affect the nervous system or other systems of the body.

I can't possibly see how. Most systems in the body depend on oxidation/reduction reactions, the cleavage/formation of phosphate bonds, or Na/K ion channels. Most elements present in vivo don't even have spin-active nuclei. Even if they get in excited spin states, that doesn't affect their reactivity in any meaningful way.

Therefore one cannot claim that low frequency EM radiation is completely safe or definitely harmful.

Let me walk you through what various kinds of radiation can do, in order of increasing energy.

Radio waves: excite nuclear spin states. This won't cook food. This is where most "Magnetic Radiation" comes from. This isn't known to make chemical reactions happen that wouldn't otherwise happen. Radio waves are so ubiquitous that if you believe that low-freq Radio Waves are harmful, you may as well kill yourself now. Won't cause cancer, but has led to the proliferation of junk science.
Microwaves: molecular rotation (stuff tumbles around). This cooks food (if there's a dipole). This will make chemical reactions (that would normally happen) happen faster in the same way that applying heat would. Won't cause cancer, but will burn you.
IR: molecular vibration (stretches chemical bonds). Heats stuff (think of a broiler or heat lamp). Might cause chemical bonds to break if you pump enough energy into it. Won't cause cancer, but will burn you.
Uv-Visible light: Excites electrons in transition metals and highly-unsaturated/aromatic organics (some DNA bases are aromatic organics). Makes stuff emit photons when relaxing from excited states (fluorescence, phosphorescence, etc.). Has been linked to skin cancer.
X-rays: ionizing radiation. Hits heavier nuclei (transitions and lower p-blocks) and creates ions, which can then react with things around them. Causes health problems. Best avoided.

Say 50Hz might be safe but 120Hz might cause you to hallucinate or something like that.

120 Hz better not--it's the first overtone of the AC power found in much of the world. This is one small step above searching for The Brown Note [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Health concerns (1)

MaXiMiUS (923393) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696736)

Despite what Futurama says, not everything causes cancer..

Bender: Hey! Get a load of this pathetic 20th century TV!
Fry: What's wrong with it?
Bender: Well, aside from causing eye cancer, these things had a lousy low-definition picture.
Seriously though, I couldn't find anything linking magnetism to cancer, so you're just being superstitious.

Re:Health concerns (2, Insightful)

krs804 (986193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696826)

Once the word RADIATION is heard, most people cringe. They lump all EM radiation into the same category as UV, X and Gamma rays, or even confuse it with particle radiation. Anyway, I seriously doubt that this desk will emit anything higher than a few millivolts at a couple hundred Hertz.

Re:Health concerns (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696876)

Long term exposure to magnetic radiation may cause cancer...

Screw that! What about my prince albert?!

Re:Health concerns (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697006)

But living on Earth has a higher rate of cancer.

News flash to you, if you live in a home with electrical wiring and electricity then you are living inside a very large magnetic field, your car has lots of magentic fields.

And god help you if you carry a cellphone, use a walkie talkie, have a TV set, etc...

Pick your death, magnetic radiation and die of cancer when you are 85 or live like they did on the frontier and die without cancer but at age 45.

Life on this planet is deadly, the dangers of a magnetic field are nearly nothing compared to the rest of the crap that is far more dangerous.

Re:Health concerns (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697008)

This isnt magnetic radiation like wifi or a mobile phone. Its just a standard old electro magnet.

Efficiency Concerns (2, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697020)

I'd be more concerned about eh power wastage / efficiency concerns. Electricity ain't getting any cheaper (quite the reverse), and I can't say its *that* onerous a task to plug in a device only when it needs charging. Is this an always-on solution? because if so, that seems horribly wasteful to me.

Re:Efficiency Concerns (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697196)

Perhaps it could sense a device bluetooth like and only when something needed a charge would it send out the power beam.

Re:Efficiency Concerns (1)

dfjunior (774213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697202)

Certainly no more wasteful than the "wall warts" we use now; after all, many of them are using induction internally anyway. Conceptually, inductive charging technology just splits the transformer into two halves: one in the "charger" and one in the device itself.

Re:Efficiency Concerns (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17700848)

Conceptually, inductive charging technology just splits the transformer into two halves: one in the "charger" and one in the device itself.

Yeah, and the result is a lot less efficient.

What, pray tel, is (1)

gp310ad (77471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697158)

magnetic radiation?

Re:Health concerns (1)

sakshale (598643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697618)

Is anyone worried about what the effects might be on the person sitting at the desk? Long term exposure to magnetic radiation may cause cancer...
I have a heart pacemaker and have been told that magnetic fields are something to be avoided. I wonder if they even looked into the possibility of there being a problem.

I walk into your office, reach over your desk to shake your hand (not knowing your charger is there) and collapse...

Re:Health concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17697722)

No, no one is concerned, because the cell phone companies and power companies paid for multi-million dollar studies which conclusively prove there's no danger. And of course we ALL TRUST companies to make sure studies which would hurt them are conducted appropriately.

Re:Health concerns (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 7 years ago | (#17698626)

I would be more concerned with putting a laptop with a magnet based storage medium on a desk with a powerful magnetic field.

Re:Health concerns (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699440)

I am equally concerned about the wisdom of building a strong degaussing coil right into the desktop.

There may be a need for big yellow tape boundaries on the desktop that indicate where it's safe to rest your laptop, to prevent the hard drive from being zonked.

Re:Health concerns (1)

Cstryon (793006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17700194)

The only thing I'm concerned about is the super awesome Powers I might get from being charged like a battery at my desk!

And cell phones might cause cancer? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17696394)

And now this proposal to have people sit in the middle of EM fields strong enough to charge batteries?

No thanks.

Cook your own brains and gonads.

No more shopping online. (3, Funny)

Asm-Coder (929671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696402)

Or, at least, no more shopping at stores in town after laying your credit card down on your desk while shopping online.

wireless transfer of energy?? (1, Redundant)

wfberg (24378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696410)

Wireless transfer of energy through a magnetic field, is SO 1998.

No, really, my toothbrush does it.

Closer to 1898 (3, Informative)

Gavin86 (856684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696532)

Nikola Tesla beat you to the punch by about 100 years or so. (Edison can suck it!)

Re:Closer to 1898 (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699484)

True, but Tesla went sorta nuts in his later years.

Which fringe publishers have made a mint out of exploiting for decades now.

Re:wireless transfer of energy?? (2, Funny)

ShadowBlasko (597519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696642)

Yeah, someone tell the folks over at Sonicare that they are using technology that comes from the future.

Re:wireless transfer of energy?? (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17698482)

How do you spell patent suit?

Re:wireless transfer of energy?? (1)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696820)

As does my electric razor.

Captcha: "amazing"

"Not exactly new" (5, Informative)

SilentBob0727 (974090) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696416)

The wireless transfer of energy through magnetic fields is called electromagnetic induction, and it's been a well-known phenomenon since 1831. It's also currently used the world over: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transformer [wikipedia.org]

Re:"Not exactly new" (1)

bmgoau (801508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17698344)

I believe the intention of this article was to introduce a new and particularly well grounded way of using said electromagnaetic induction. I dont believe the makers are stating anywhere that they have found a new way to transfer energy, they simply have made a push to have it integrated into our office lives.

Re:"Not exactly new" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17699788)

So, these desks will be more than meets the eye [wikipedia.org] ...

I guess this'll put a nail in the CRT coffin. (3, Funny)

Robot Randy (982296) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696438)

And the cassette tape, floppy disk, microcassette, LTO-3 Backup, etc...

not to mention pacemakers, insulin pumps...

And your laptops HD for that matter. (2, Interesting)

aix tom (902140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697300)

And I don't really see a benefit in having to place your device on a certain spot on the desk to recharge it over having to place it in some charging device.

The charging device is even more practical, since it's more portable.

Re:And your laptops HD for that matter. (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699494)

The direct benefit is that when your cell phone seems like it's not being charged properly, instead of simply checking out a wall-wart and maybe needing to reseat it in an outlet or replace it, you will now be able to simply call the maintenance department, have them send out somebody to 'fix' your desk, wait a few days.... rinse, repeat, etc.

Re:I guess this'll put a nail in the CRT coffin. (1)

sheepweevil (1036936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17701932)

I have passed through airport security, which uses magnetic induction http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_detector [wikipedia.org] wearing my insulin pump many times, and it still works fine.

Old technology (2, Interesting)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696460)

I've been charging my dog's "invisible fence" collar this way for years. Actually, with that technology, it doesn't even have to touch. It just has to get close to the charger (within an inch or two). Works great. My dog's zapper collar is 100% sealed shut, making it 100% waterproof.

Re:Old technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17696638)

Huh? That makes no sense. How does it zap your dog without exposed contacts to do the zapping?

Re:Old technology (1)

Thomas Henden (804134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699222)

People who punish their animals with electric shocks are really sick people, those collars should have been forbidden, and something should be done with people who performs animal cruelty like this.

Re:Old technology (1)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699638)

Besides the parent being a troll there for the child... Has said parent thought that maybe, just maybe the grandparent poster cares for the dog and realizes that a few unpleasant, but harmless shocks are better than leaving the safety of the dog's yard, getting hit by a car, and dying half crushed along the road? Not that this is necessarily the case; he could just be a sick !@#$, but there exists the possibility that he is not.

Re:Old technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17702230)

Works great on the kids, too. Trained 'em to stay out of the study in just a few short (no pun intended) weeks.

Re:Old technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17700100)

It's not punishment, you moron.

Hooray! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696482)

Forget about my desk charging things. My coffee will never get cold again!

Re:Hooray! (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696580)

Forget about cold coffee. Get a tongue piercing and lick the desk for a mid afternoon pick me up'r.

Re:Hooray! (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697000)

That would actually be a pretty cool device- a coffee mug with a heating element


Still, I think this is the solution to the wrong problem. I don't find a single cord and an adapter that much of a hassle. The problem I have is that every single device needs a different charger- laptop, cell phone, iPod, digital camera, etc. I think the real need is for some standardization so you could have just one adapter charging multiple devices.

Web 4.27.1@#$! (2, Insightful)

1010110010 (1002553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696508)

I can't seriously be the only one tired of hearing about Web x.0.

Re:Web 4.27.1@#$! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17697372)

You are. And no one cares.

Re:Web 4.27.1@#$! (2, Funny)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697426)

"Web 2.0" is the "information superhighway" of the middle of this decade. That is, it is the phrase that makes it clear that the speaker is a moron. And what the fuck the web has to do with a charging desk, I dunno.

No thanks. (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696520)

Please give us rather a working wireless connection from our homes to our office desks.

What the ... (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696540)

blazes is going on here? I clickety click the article and it's no more than a summary of the slashdot submission (or vice versa). Where's the beef? Give me more meat and potatoes here or I will be forced to go Digg vegan.

Sheesh! (2, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696560)

Now they're expecting me to carry a desk around whenever I need to charge things? No thanks. I'll just carry a wall-wart and plug it into any of the billion+ outlets scattered throughout North America.

IKEA already has these (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17696572)

I was going to buy one, but the floor model erased my fucking credit cards.

Imagine... (2, Funny)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696576)

...if every electrical outlet had a different type of prongs depending on the brand of plug you bought.

Hell, you don't even have to imagine. We already live with the incompatibility of low voltage power connectors... Only now instead of replacing an adapter when we get a device from a different manufacturer, we can buy all new office furniture! Joy!

This technology is useless until the patents expire and building and electric codes require a specific version of the technology.

Re:Imagine... (1)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696752)

I don't think the future is that bleak, we just need the wireless equivalent of USB to pop up (which won't be wireless USB as we know it now, given that it only does data, not power).

All it takes is a cheaply available and relatively generalized wireless power/data standard, with wide enough support that it becomes in a device maker's interests to leverage everyone's preexisting chargers for their new products. In fact, it seems likely that given the lack of physical plug designs to wrangle over for smaller devices looking to cram in extra functionality, a wireless data/power standard could easily become even more universal than current wired USB.

I for one greatly look forward to the day when my cellphone, iPod, laptop, wireless keyboard/mouse, camera, etc all charge whenever they're near a compatible charger.
It could easily lead to a tremendous proliferation of more convenient personal technology that I would love to see.

Re:Imagine... (1)

Satertek (708058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696878)

When devices stop using electricity, yes, you'll have to buy a new desk.

Re:Imagine... (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697278)

Hell, you don't even have to imagine. We already live with the incompatibility of low voltage power connectors... Only now instead of replacing an adapter when we get a device from a different manufacturer, we can buy all new office furniture! Joy!

And there's the reason why this inductive-charging scheme will not be adopted quickly by gadget companies: accessories are a cash cow.

Indeed, it is possible to sell a gadget at a loss, and earn all your profits on things like wall adapters, car adapters, USB adapters, data transfer cables, earphones, etc. etc. etc.

Think about it: how many different connectors are really needed to support the world of devices? My f***ing camera has a proprietary USB connection that requires a proprietary cable. WTF? And the power connector is similarly weird -- just weird enough to create an aftermarket for the manufacturer but not for any third party manufacturer of power adapters. Damn MBAs are running amok at our expense.

This desk would permanently end a lot of that monkey-business. There could even be a small cupholder version that you'd install in your car, and just plonk your gadget into it while you're driving.

Of course if this profit center dries up, gadget manufacturers will have to find another one. Everyone's got to make their 10%, no matter how you slice it. The gadgets themselves would have to become more expensive. But that's okay, because that would be a wash on a personal level yet a significant savings on the overall social level.

Re:Imagine... (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699522)

Gadget companies will simply be able to add another category of accessories to their current line. You didn't really think they were going to incorporate the 'bulky inductive pickup' (the language they will use) mechanism in the device itself, did you? I'm certain they will instead be eager to sell an additional new 'inductive pickup charging base' for you to place on that magic spot on the desk. No need to plug it into an outlet, and it has the traditional proprietary connector to attach to your gadget.

...uhm (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696668)

"Wireless charging is nothing new, HP..." ...or Tesla...

health issues? (1)

koan (80826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696722)

Aren't there some health concerns to having your work space set up like that?

Re:health issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17698920)

Yes. Imagine wireless vibrators that never have to be removed for charging.

Wireless mouse (3, Interesting)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17696980)

The first thing to come into my mind is a wireless mouse that gets power through the mouse pad. Wouldn't even need batteries, probably. Just capacitors.

Re:Wireless mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17697242)

Of course, then the mouse pad would need a wire...

Re:Wireless mouse (2, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697394)

Well, it's not EXACTLY the same, but if you get a Wacom graphics tablet, they include a mouse that only works on the tablet... it doesn't have a power supply at all, though, batteries or otherwise, and neither does the pen...

Re:Wireless mouse (2, Informative)

springbox (853816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697936)

Wireless mouse [a4tech.us] . Seems kind of stupid though. It's like a wired mouse without the wire connected to the mouse itself.

Build it into the "Deskpad"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17697186)

the inductor could be built into a deskpad, or even thin enough to go under it - why the desk at all? Oh, because it is a gimmick.

On a similar vein; it appears companies are beginning to prey on technology-dumb people. Or, has this always been the case, except they were not so blatant about it?

efficiency, inefficiency, personal responsibility (1)

beaverfever (584714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697316)

I'm curious about the efficiency of charging batteries with this technology. Batteries are already have an inherent level of inefficiency, so it seems to me that potentially adding another layer of energy loss to battery-powered gadgets is unfortunate and disappointing at best, environmentally irresponsible and a choice to contribute to the spoiling of Earth at worst.

Re:efficiency, inefficiency, personal responsibili (1)

metaltoad (954564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699118)

It seems to me this would also significantly reduce the battery life of an appliance. Put something down on your desk... pick it up... put it down. Isn't that exactly what you are *not* supposed to do with batteries?

Re:efficiency, inefficiency, personal responsibili (1)

madcow_bg (969477) | more than 7 years ago | (#17700716)

Well, the gadgets should just get smarter.

My first thought, too... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#17700658)

The energy inefficiency of this idea is astounding. A few thousand desks like this would need their own power station.

I've got a much better idea: How about we standardize the power connectors on 'phones so that you can easily have a charger at work *and* at home, borrow a friend's charger, use the charger in your friend's car, etc.

If you really must have contactless charging, how about a cradle which is roughly the same size/shape as a 'phone - so the induction coils actually line up properly and you only waste 50% of the energy instead of 99.9999%.

I have a watch (1)

Wicko (977078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697356)

that does the same thing. it sits on a little charger, and there are no contacts, just some molded plastic, and it charges relatively quickly. It is pretty neat actually. I'm surprised there are all these articles featuring this technology that has been around for some time now. It may be at a larger scale, but theres little difference between the wireless charging technology now and the same technology tomorrow.

I guess this means... (1)

Erbus (983649) | more than 7 years ago | (#17697546)

...you couldn't use a magnetic drive anywhere near it?

Just don't slack on the job... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17698616)

or you might just get cancer from falling asleep with your head resting on the "charging" surface. Cause if we're talking a magnetic field strong enough to charge a laptop battery, I can't see how it could fail to set up some eddy currents in the nice, conductive grey stuff we have in our heads.

Argh, I thought of this ages ago. (1)

teletype (40064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17698700)

Argh. I need to learn to actually act on some of the cool ideas I think of. Ages ago, I built a prototype of a system like this. My idea involved standard AA, AAA, and other size batteries with inductive charging circuits built into each cell. The idea being that you'd then be able to trivially retrofit it in any device.

My idea was just to make a generic pad that could be affixed to the bottom of any desk, countertop, shelf, etc.

Ah well, I need to learn to act on my ideas before someone else does. Same thing with those persistance of vision clocks available at Spencer Gifts and the like. Built one of those back in the 80s, and never did anything with it. But this idea has for more potential than a clock. More power to them for running with it, I guess.

Fulton Innovation (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17699996)

Could they be somehow related to this guy [rochester.edu] ? If they are, I hate to think what's in store.

What I want... (1)

Ed_1024 (744566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17701136)

is a wideband power converter on my phone/laptop/camera, etc. that takes all the stray EM radiation that everyone else is leaking into the environment and uses it to charge my devices, thus saving me money...

Maybe with an optional tinfoil hat plus charger lead that tops up my batteries at the same time as keeping the thought police out of my head. ;)
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