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A New Wireless Power Transmission Sheet

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the electric-blanket dept.

126

Roland Piquepaille writes "Several companies have started to sell power 'pads' that can charge your cellphone when you put it on the pad's surface. But these silicon-based pads are expensive — and relatively 'specialized.' Now, Japanese researchers have built a plastic sheet which could power all the devices placed close to it. So far, this 4-layer sheet, which uses printed organic transistors and plastic MEMS switches, can deliver up to 40 watts of power — enough for some laptops. The technology is apparently efficient and inexpensive to produce. But as the devices to recharge will need to incorporate a special receiver, don't expect to see these plastic power sheets on sale before several years."

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This is stupid (-1, Flamebait)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930053)

Sorry to be blunt, but this is just stupid. Plug your phone into the little wire, and be done with it. Plus, it's going to waste a lot of extra electricity.

Re:This is stupid (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930233)

Sorry to be blunt, but this is just stupid. Plug your phone into the little wire, and be done with it.

If you were right, bluetooth would not exist, and we'd just use the little wire.

but you're wrong. wires are a bitch. and now that you can transfer the data wirelessly, it's highly desirable to be able to transmit power wirelessly as well.

This is also absolutely necessary in a hospital setting; currently you have to have covers over all ports. Eliminate the ports, eliminate the covers, make the device more fluid-resistant, it's a win-win-win situation.

Re:This is stupid (0)

igny (716218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930655)

Actually, the GP is right, it is stupid. You do not get rid of the power wires. The plastic sheet, which lays on on your table and induces electric current on everything around, is powered via a wire.

Re:This is stupid (2, Insightful)

xenotrout (680453) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930795)

Sure, this sheet does require a wire, but that wire can be plugged in once and left connected. Especially useful if many devices can be charged by one pad. In the case of charging and powering mobile devices, the wire isn't as bad as having to plug it in and unplug it, possibly keeping track of multiple plugs and wires. Minor difference for a single device but a larger difference for multiple devices.

Environmental reasons why this is stupid. (1)

rben (542324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931423)

The problem I see is that you are losing 20% of your power for the sake of convenience. The last thing we need is another way to throw power away needlessly. We should be looking at ways to increase our power production and transmission efficiency.

I'd love to lose the power cords, but not at the cost of destroying the climate.

Re:Environmental reasons why this is stupid. (2, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931735)

20% of your power.. for LOW POWER DEVICES.

They're not talking about running a refrigerator for these things, they're talking about reducing wall-wart clutter to one wire and one pad. In addition to less clutter, that means that lazy people will leave fewer transformers plugged in without powering anything.

Re:Environmental reasons why this is stupid. (1)

Old Benjamin (1068464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932287)

Not only that, but it reduces waste from things like cellphone chargers left plugged in: they continue to consume power even when they aren't charging anything. This might actually REDUCE usage, although I admittedly don't know how much they consume when not charging anything (chargers or the sheet). Not only that but no longer will devices come with their own cord, saving on production of wires, and the power used to make them. If as suggested, these gain widespread use and are almost everywhere, with an appreciable range, then we can expect to see batteries reduced in size, as they might only need to survive 30 minutes: from pad to pad.

Re:Environmental reasons why this is stupid. (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932609)

20% of your power.. for LOW POWER DEVICES.

They're not talking about running a refrigerator for these things, they're talking about reducing wall-wart clutter to one wire and one pad. In addition to less clutter, that means that lazy people will leave fewer transformers plugged in without powering anything.
Keep in mind, what if this device becomes wildly successful? What is the wasted watts for 100 million things being charged with this device? It adds up.

Re:Environmental reasons why this is stupid. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932655)

Yes, though what is the wasted watts for 100 million chargers not charging anything (but plugged in anyway)?

Re:This is stupid (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931547)

This is Slashdot, I haven't read the article. But is there any particular reason that the wire needs to be running to a wall socket? Why couldn't the wire be in the all and the charging devices sit on a small shelf? You walk in the door and empty your pockets, toss your keys, change, cell phone, pda, etc on the shelf? When you go to use them or to leave the next day, you pick up your fully charged cell phone.

With a slight increase in range these could maybe be put into ceiling panels. What would be really great is if standards were developed like those for batteries and devices were made to conform to the standards. The receivers and panels would be tuned to different standards. When you walk within range of a charging panel your device automatically begins to charge without you doing anything. Now imagine the charging panels are everywhere. Hospitals, Living rooms, McDonalds, Office Buildings, the bus station.

Except for large devices (and maybe this can eventually support large devices) wall sockets and charging or even thinking of charge becomes a thing of the past.

Re:This is stupid (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931695)

I should proof read.

'Why couldn't the wire be in the all '

Should be

'Why couldn't the wire be in the wall'

Re:This is stupid (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932151)

No reason at all. The wires are already in the walls. But you do have to poke holes in the wall to get to them. Most houses are built with this in mind, so the contractors pre-poke some holes for you and put a little cover on so you don't have to worry about brushing up against the exposed wiring.

We call those pre-poked holes, "wall outlets."

If you're talking about making the whole wall a charging wall, I suppose you could do that too. But any part of the wall without shelves installed would be useless for charging, and you could damage the pad by installing built-in furniture if you're not careful.

Re:This is stupid (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932421)

'If you're talking about making the whole wall a charging wall,'

No, I actually had in mind something flush or near flush with the wall, much like you mount those wall sockets and connected directly to the house wiring like those wall sockets. It would definately be best if these were preinstalled during construction but you could always retrofit one into your home using a larger version of those little blue boxes you can put in the wall to mount sockets where there is no stud (if they are as light as I suspect). Basically you cut a hole, put the box inside, and then use a screw to turn a wedge that extends out behind the drywall on each side of the box. You then screw what you are mounting into the box and wedge the drywall between the two. It works well but obviously has a weight limit.

The problem with outlets is that by the time you have the outlet itself, and the plug, you can't hide the wire behind the device and still have the device lie anywhere near approaching flat against the wall.

I suppose you could cut a hole and tie direct into the wiring but actually hang the device like a mirror or picture frame. That would require a smaller hole but seems more prone to being bumped or smacked and generally seems like it would be less secure.

Re:This is stupid (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930859)

Not only is the GP right, I would contend that this is much less useful than Bluetooth. Bluetooth has a range often measured in meters, not centimeters. Wouldn't it look silly if your phone was almost dead and someone called you while it was charging on this thing? You wouldn't be able to pick up the phone so you would have to lay your head on the phone!

Wireless charging is neat but the range needs to be vastly improved to be useful.

Re:This is stupid (1)

ncohafmuta (577957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930895)

yeah, 'cause bluetooth works SOOO well

-Tony

Re:This is stupid (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931241)

I don't know anything about hospitals, but I can't agree with you about wires being "a bitch". It's a wire. How is that a "bitch"? What is Bluetooth used for? To eliminate wires? Are you serious?

Re:This is stupid (2, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931265)

What is Bluetooth used for? To eliminate wires? Are you serious?

what did you think it was for? eliminating macramé tea cozies?

Re:This is stupid (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931565)

I had no idea. I would never imagine that somebody would invent an entire technology just to charge gadgets. It seems beyond ridiculous to me. It seems like a solution in search of a (real) problem.

Re:This is stupid (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932589)

What is Bluetooth used for? To eliminate wires? Are you serious?
What did you think it was used for? It allows for wireless headsets and audio transmission and slow data transmission and other things. The range can be measured in tens of feet.

So yes, the point is to eliminate the wires. Like the one running from the phone to your earpiece. Or to your headphones. Or to your keyboard and mouse. These can all use bluetooth.

Re:This is stupid (1)

hador_nyc (903322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932483)

yeah, but can you imagine the lawsuits? Oh that power sheet is spreading EMFs and they are making me sick!

just so you realize I'm not making this up...

One link about the Bees [google.com]
I know, but can't seem to find, one or two about some lady who walks around with a metal mesh on her head to protect her!

i wish i was making that up

Re:This is stupid (1)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932521)

the idea of the pad is not to charge a single device like a phone, but you put a large pad on your desk, and your laptop, cell, iPod, headset, etc all can charge at the same time, and only use 1 wire to do it. Power cords are easy enough when you only have 1, but I have 7 I can use (iPod, work phone, personal phone, personal notebook, work notebook, bluetooth headset, house phone, ... My wife has another 4 devices of her own. I need 3 whole power strips just for charging cables for the portable stuff, and all that crap uses block based power adapters so I'm only using every other outlet... It would be an absolute blessing to not have to use cables. Besides the fact that I've had to replace 2 cell phones and 1 notebook motherboard because either I dropped something after plugging it in, or a cat got on the desk and knocked something off, destroying the power jack. Now, if manufacturers would offer their device WITH the batteries that support this (even for a slight up charge) at time of purchase instead of making me buy expensive REPLACEMENT batteries (or sell it without a battery and let me pick one I like), I'd already have this technology at home. I'd also get one to recharge the wireless game controllers I have. I know they sell adapters that plug into the charge adapter, but that adds significant bulk and potential damage if I snag the dongle cable on something.

Re:This is stupid (2, Insightful)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932801)

Wouldn't simply using one adapter for all your devices suffice? If cellphones, pda's etc would STANDARDIZE their power adapters (they won't, so cingular, LG, etc. can continue charging $30!!! for a cellphone charger!) to a standard form factor and voltage, then you could use one, more efficient, auto switching power supply. Then a simple daisy-chain style connector could be created, and bingo, less mess. Devices would simply require a diode-square (polarity protection) and a voltage regulator. Then a simple, two or three pin system could be made (5 and 12 volts). Thus eliminating multiple wall-warts, allowing for daisy-chain or octopus charging, etc. Each extension wire would have a male+female end. This would allow for both chaining and octopus connections. Less loss due to transmission losses, less potentially harmful EM radiation, etc.

Given his reputation... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18930237)

this one's tagged "fuckroland ohnoitsroland pigpail pigpile shill"

Re:This is stupid (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930547)

Which little wire? Why should I have a separate charger for each device?

That's why I think this is a cool device.

So what you are saying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18930765)

Is that your life has been a living hell for the past several decades due to the maddening fact that you had to plug things into the wall. At long last, your troubles are over. A separate charger for every device? That's not a world I want to live in.

Re:So what you are saying... (1)

bodan (619290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931353)

Right now I have six cables under my desk, for power. If there was no USB, I'd have two more. If there was no WiFi, another two cables. If there was no Bluetooth, I'd have another two cables hanging around. And I don't have an iPod, yet.

I don't mind having a wire around the desk, it's having a dozen that I mind. Each cable that I can get rid off helps. This thing would decrease the number of cables on, around, and under my desk by more than any other wireless tech did.

And yes, the minor annoyance of having to pick up a cable from the floor, route it around the other cables and the various things on my desk (yes, I need them, and no, I don't have room for a bigger desk), find which of the seven holes in the back of my laptop fits the plug, several times every day of my life, and the same for the phone, and spending a half hour re-arranging the cables every week, is something I'd pay a decent amount of money to go without.

How did this get modded down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18931009)

The parent makes an excellent point. This tech is a complete waste of electricity for a very minor convenience.

Re:This is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18931281)

Plug your phone into the little wire, and be done with it.

Which little wire? I've got a dozen of them, all of them on different wall warts, which of course can't all be plugged in at once in the same spot. In the absence of a big wall wart with a dozen little wires, each with their own configurable voltage and interchangeable tips, I'll take the next best thing, which is this.

  In fact, given that I really need this, I'm willing to buy the egg now, and wait for the chicken to come along (or vice versa) instead of sitting out the chicken vs egg argument.

This seems like a good idea (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930063)

I really do have a large mess of cables everywhere (desk, house, around my bed, etc.) and I'd love this. It would be great to get rid of these.

Contraception! Re:This seems like a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18930529)

Just sit on it for a few minutes, and, voila, you are sterile (at least for a while). The possibilities are endless!

40 watts? (1)

duguk (589689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930091)

How many laptops are there that use 40 watts? I don't know of any, thats a little over 2 Amps at 18 volts, i guess they exist.

Still, sounds interesting but as always its going to take some massive manufacturer to incorporate it for it to take off. Probably Sony :)

Monkeyboi

Re:40 watts? (2, Funny)

fiftysixquarters (1078091) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930229)

Do you really want Sony powering your laptop?

Re:40 watts? (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930635)

Do you really want Sony powering your laptop?
I'm all for Sony implementing this.

Think about it -- when the charging device explodes, there's a chance that your laptop will be blown clear and suffer no harm.

Re:40 watts? (1)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932401)

Imagine keeping one of those things in your pocket - that would make for a great episode of "Ow, my balls!"

Re:40 watts? (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930443)

It could be enough if its a night-time charger for laptops. Set the laptop down before you go to bed, pick it up and haul it with you in the morning...

Re:40 watts? (3, Informative)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931035)

My laptop's PSU is rated 2.7 A at 18.5 Volts, and that must be with a good safety margin. Then agian, it's an almost six-year-old, 600Mhz P!!!-M machine, with 3D Rage Pro for video and an 11" screen.

Mordern laptops, judging by the replacement PSUs available, seem to fall between 65-100W, although one Acer unit is rated at 135W.

Re:40 watts? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931943)

Mordern laptops
Are those ones used by the Ringwraiths when they are out of the office?

Seriously though, 40W input to charge a battery doesn't necessarily have anything to do with 40W consumption of the CPU/GPU/monitor combo, right? Running directly off the supply would be problematic, but charging the battery seems like it would still be possible, no?

Re:40 watts? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931203)

Your typical universal laptop adapter is at least 70 watts: quick googling gets me Targus adapters at 70, 75, 90, and 120W. The power supply on my Macbook is 85W, and the old iBook PS was 65W.

i remember this (3, Informative)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930113)

i remember this [technologyreview.com] . good to see it's making its way to the market.

Re:i remember this (1)

ThunkDifferent.com (1095229) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930273)

Agreed, i think the technology looks really promising. Laptops might have to wait away, but mobiles and auto use will be a hit when it reaches markets on a bigger scale. http://thunkdifferent.com/ [thunkdifferent.com]

Re:i remember this (3, Insightful)

jusDfaqs (997794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930359)

Oh yea, Tesla was playing with this a while back :-)

Re:i remember this (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930557)

I've been charging my electric toothbrush wirelessly for years. This is so not new.

Re:i remember this (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930673)

I've been charging my electric toothbrush wirelessly for years. This is so not new.
Out of curiosity, are there contact points on your toothbrush base?

And a difference here would be the universality (dunno if that's a word, but it fits) of the charger. For example, can you now charge your nosehair trimmer or other bathroom appliance on your toothbrush charger?

Re:i remember this (3, Informative)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930875)

If the brush that they're using is a Sonicare, there aren't any contacts - it uses inductance.

Re:i remember this (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932173)

Same with my Oral-B. It took me a while to figure out how it charged without any metal contacts.

Integrated features (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931767)

Have the charging pad double as a mouse pad, and the phone double as a wireless mouse. For me the key is limiting the number of devices I carry, and the amount of crap on my desk.

Re:Integrated features (1)

powerpants (1030280) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932049)

Look at the underside of your mouse and tell me you want to hold that against your face.

Aftermarket receivers will come first... (2, Insightful)

TBone (5692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930241)

Just like every Chinese fab is making electronics accessories for laptops and cell phones and such, expect that, if these things get cheap enough, we'll start seeing adapters to clip onto the bottom of phones that will take power from the pad.

Shortly after that, expect to start seeing universal adaptor kits at Radio Shack with a switch-selector voltage output, and 87 plugs, to connect to a generic charger. Maybe a charger base with 3 outputs.

The application for such a pad is MUCH larger than the article implies. It won't require manufacturers to integrate such receivers until well after their acceptance, which will drive down the price per unit to incorporate them into devices.

Re:Aftermarket receivers will come first... (1)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930383)

So instead of plugging my phone into a wall, I can plug my phone into a box that I set on top of a table that's plugged into a wall.

Yeah, I want to pay to be able to do that.

Re:Aftermarket receivers will come first... (1)

TBone (5692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931465)

It's all about the wall wart consolidation.

Think about how little circuitry is involved in something like this. It would be almost trivial to make a charging block with various adapters on it to let you run 1, 2, 4 small-load devices off of it...say, your router, desk phone, some number of device chargers, etc. All of them would charge off of a single station with one plug.

If you had 3 power strips under your desk simply for the reason of not being able to plug all teh transformers into a single one, you'd be all on this like white on rice.

Re:Aftermarket receivers will come first... (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931587)

but what if the table charged not only your phone, but your laptop, gps, mp3 player, portable game system, etc, regardless of make, model?

Re:Aftermarket receivers will come first... (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932243)

So instead of plugging my phone into a wall, I can plug my phone into a box that I set on top of a table that's plugged into a wall.
Not being a real electronics geek, I can only guess at this, but I think it wouldn't be "plugging your phone into a box" but "plugging a small box into your phone." Take a look at the one-use rapid phone chargers on the market now. The adapter for this wireless charger would be about the same size, maybe even smaller since it doesn't need to carry an actual battery.

Re:Aftermarket receivers will come first... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930857)

if these things get cheap enough, we'll start seeing adapters to clip onto the bottom of phones that will take power from the pad.
Agreed, and 'cheap enough' doesn't really matter -- if the chargers enter the market significantly at any price, we'll see this happen.

Shortly after that, expect to start seeing universal adaptor kits at Radio Shack with a switch-selector voltage output
I don't think Radioshack, or any other retailer, would carry a product capable of frying so many consumer appliances. One standard output, with input-adaptors for devices. Device manufacturers would love this one as well, since then they get to make another $30 off purchasers by selling yet another adapter -- so market adoption is more likely.

Sell a cell phone? Take a loss.
Sell a car charger, spare wall charger, headset, adaptor for universal pad charger? Ka-ching!

Re:Aftermarket receivers will come first... (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931171)

I don't think Radioshack, or any other retailer, would carry a product capable of frying so many consumer appliances.
They already do. [radioshack.com]

Re:Aftermarket receivers will come first... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931337)

Sure, but you've got to plug each device in with a specific adaptor plug. Wireless charging would greatly increase the chance of accidentally frying your appliance(s).

Re:Aftermarket receivers will come first... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931413)

Sure, but you've got to plug each device in with a specific adaptor plug. Wireless charging would greatly increase the chance of accidentally frying your appliance(s).

Hardly:

The power receiver would have to do a bit of voltage conversion and regulation anyhow. No reason it can't do overvoltage protection at the same time.

As to different power transmitter bases: Different brands would likely use different technologies and couple less efficiently, if at all, to receivers designed for a different version. Your main risk from putting your wireless power enabled device on the wrong type of base would be having its battery run down when you thought it would be charged.

Re:Aftermarket receivers will come first... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931665)

The power receiver would have to do a bit of voltage conversion and regulation anyhow. No reason it can't do overvoltage protection at the same time.
So why bother having a variable-output base if the receiver needs to convert anyway? Plus, what if you toss multiple devices on the pad at the same time, each with different power requirements? This is the reason I'd want one of these, to eliminate multiple chargers.

The way I look at it, it's like establishing a standard for wallwarts. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a standard output?

Different brands would likely use different technologies and couple less efficiently, if at all, to receivers designed for a different version.
In the beginning, I agree. I think in the long run, a standard would become accepted until made obsolete. The utility of a universal charger would be severely reduced by varying interoperability, and so the charger most likely to succeed is the one that plays best will most devices.

Re:Aftermarket receivers will come first... (1)

TBone (5692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931959)

So why bother having a variable-output base if the receiver needs to convert anyway? Plus, what if you toss multiple devices on the pad at the same time, each with different power requirements? This is the reason I'd want one of these, to eliminate multiple chargers.
Baby steps. You aren't gonna be able to drop your devices on the pad tomorrow. You could, assuming the market is smart enough, go out and buy a wired adapter that's powers off the pad tomorrow. It's no less convenient than what you get today, which is a strip of warts and connectors powering everything on your desk, and has a much brighter future. For phones/handhelds/etc, the charger could be something that's similar to the little bluetooth adapters they sell now for phones and handhelds - clips onto the bottom of the device on the power jack, contains the charging circuit. Hell, if it's built right and small enough, a lot of people might just leave it on the device. For plug-in type devices, a single wart with 2-4 variable circuits inside could power several devices that sit on the desk...like your desk phone, speakers, wireless mouse/kbd, etc. Eventually, with enough interest shown in aftermarket solutions, the device fabs would start incorporating the circuitry into the devices directly...then we'd be set.

How Efficient? (4, Informative)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930287)

The article gives some efficiency numbers, but doesn't explain exactly what they're talking about.

The researchers say the transmission of power happens with 81.4% efficiency -- compared to 93% efficiency in the wired grid network as a whole -- with a "quite low" level of leaked electromagnetic radiation.


Now, I may be wrong, but I believe that 93% is the efficiency of electricity being generated at the power plant and then sent to you, however many miles away. So it's not an either-or thing, it's an extra loss. Instead of losing 7% of the generated electricity, you lose nearly 25%. This is ridiculous compared to the effort of just plugging your damn devices in.

Re:How Efficient? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930515)

But I don't think it's a major draw of power overall. If it's only 40 watts, it's going to be a much smaller power drain than the refrigerator/washer/air conditioner/computer. And all it's doing is charging cell phones or mp3 players, it would be on for only a few hours a day, at most.

It is throwing away power, but you'd almost certainly save more energy by proper insulation, getting over your hatred of compact fluorescent light bulbs, buying a new (and more efficient) water heater, etc. It seems penny-wise/pound foolish to worry about a few watt-hours per day for convenience when kilowatt-hours are being used.

Re:How Efficient? (2, Insightful)

Big_Breaker (190457) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930607)

Wall warts are probably worse for wasting energy, especially since they stay plugged into the wall even when the gadget is not recharging. That burns energy 24/7.

One pad - even with transmission losses - is probably better than the typical 3-6 wall wart chargers in use at a given time.

Re:How Efficient? (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931787)

Wall warts are probably worse for wasting energy, especially since they stay plugged into the wall even when the gadget is not recharging. That burns energy 24/7.

So unplug it/switch it off when you're not using it. Sheesh.

Re:How Efficient? (1)

egomaniac (105476) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931901)

You also need to account for the energy required to actually create the wall warts, versus the energy required to create this pad. My bet is that six or seven wall warts, with all of the petroleum-derived plastic and metal wiring, required vastly more energy to create than is lost to a few years of pad inefficiency.

Re:How Efficient? (2, Insightful)

hotdiggitydawg (881316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930855)

And all it's doing is charging cell phones or mp3 players, it would be on for only a few hours a day, at most.
Rubbish. Its sole purpose for existence is the convenience/laziness of not having to plug your device in. Do you seriously think anyone lazy enough to want such a charger will bother to turn it off? And "standby" mode is largely useless in cheap electronic goods from an environmental perspective.

Additionally, it is only 40 watts now. Who's to say it won't be capable of, say, 1000 Watts in a few years time? Wireless kettle/microwave, anyone?

Re:How Efficient? (1)

bodan (619290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931503)

It has the potential to be better at turning itself off when not in use, though; the simple fact that it'll be used for many things means it can afford a bit more intelligence.

The fact that it's supposed to be "universal" means there will be a single power-drain. (Consider that all those lazy users now have many wall-warts plugged in all the time.)

Re:How Efficient? (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931621)

I would assume that any such device worth buying will have a mechanism for sensing chargeable devices and turning itself on automatically. It could be as simple as a pressure sensor to know that something it sitting on top or as complicated as a Bluetooth signal.

In any event, this doesn't seem all that different than current solutions involving a device-specific dock, except that there's no physical contact between connectors. I think we're all used to cordless house phones, where much attention has been paid to the design of the charging dock. It doesn't seem that far-fetched to design a laptop or cell phone charging dock that's just as easy.

Re:How Efficient? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931897)

Get off your high horse. You assume convenience and laziness are tied together. A falacy if I've ever heard one. Besides, you missed an obvious benefit. Mechanical parts break due to wear and tear (plugging the charge into your phone/PDA/whatever). If you just place the phone on the pad to charge it, that's one less area to worry about mechanical failure.

Re:How Efficient? (2, Interesting)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932939)

First, the pad only "uses" electricity when there is a device inside of it's field of effect. There's no "sleep mode" it just doesn't use any mower when nothing is near it. The magnetic field generated can easily sense the presence or lack of a device and power on only when necessary.

Second, if you understood the technology, you would know there will never be a 1000 watt version. Magnetic field science works on a multiple of squares system. To generate 80 watts instead of 40 takes a field 4 times larger. to go to 160 watts requires 16 times as much field density. To produce induction coils capable of generating a field large enough to charge large devices, or a field strong enough to charge high voltage devices is prohibitively expensive.

Third, this is a trickle charge technology, taking most of the night to recharge your device instead of an hour. When batteries are rapidly charged, they get hot. This heat is not only energy wasted, but inhibits charge efficiency. Charging times for electric cars are the primary reason they don't exist yet. Trickling the energy into the battery keeps the resistance low, prolongs battery life, and actually makes each charge last longer (rapid charging only gets batteries to about 85% capacity, trickling get it to 100%).

The power efficiency of induction pads is actually quite amazing. 2% on average power loss. In fact, the pad will usually be much MORE efficient that a wall charger since the charger in the wall is 1) always using some power when plugged in, 2) still has 1-2% or more power loss when charging, 3) completes its charge in 1-2 hours, but typically remains plugged in and wasting energy (although not much) for 8-10 hours.

Smart induction only applies power to devices who's antennae resonate on specific frequencies. If you have multiple devices charging at once, the pads can resonate on multiple frequencies at the same time, charging several devices. When one completes its charge, the pad can stop "broadcasting" on that frequency and thus stop wasting that power.

ridiculous indeed (1)

jimmyfergus (726978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932153)

This is ridiculous compared to the effort of just plugging your damn devices in.

Indeed. Why not put effort into standardizing power connectors (magnetic, or did Apple manage to patent that?). I'm all for labor-saving devices, but this is absurd.

A product which started out as a joke, which someone didn't get... Hmmm, wireless phones, wireless networks, how about wireless power! Ha!

The whole point about wireless is mobility - with this you still have to put the device in a particular place.

BYO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18930329)

Just build it yourself! Its a simple induction circuit! implement it into your technology today! Don't wait + pay!

Editing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18930349)

...don't expect to see these plastic power sheets on sale before several years."

Seriously, how hard is this editing schtick? Did you know there are lots of resources on the web for proper sentence structure?

Re:Editing? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930519)

Hi, pedant, there is a perfect project for you where they scan a bunch of books in and need pedants to correct any errors [pgdp.net] . It's a good cause, and it'll let the rest of us just read our nerd news.

Re:Editing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18931107)

This is the best response to pedants of speeling/grammers I've ever seen. Constructive, terse... just wow.

That said, does the fixing of errors in the texts easily provide for a feeling of demonstrable superiority to their peers? That's what the pedants are looking for, after all.

Little plastic pad (2, Funny)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930445)

Sure it's cool to charge your gadgets with a little plastic pad, but I contend it's more fun with a Tesla coil [wikipedia.org]

Re:Little plastic pad (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930489)

my fucktard physics professor used to zap students he didnt like with a tesla coil. yes i'm serious.

Re:Little plastic pad (1)

bradkittenbrink (608877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930995)

my awesome physics professor used to zap students he didnt like with a tesla coil. yes i'm serious.
There, fixed that for you.

Re:Little plastic pad (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932033)

I think he's still sore at the prof. And below the elbow.

frist 5top (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18930485)

And I probably Th3se early

Oblig: Pls tag 'ohnoitsroland' (2, Funny)

siglercm (6059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930601)

Another Roland article. Time to rack up more advertising hits....

Please tag as 'ohnoitsroland' -- thank you :)

RESPECT TEH LOW UID PLZ MOD UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18932047)


  hawass

Spinoff applications? (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930647)

If you see this kind of message in your inbox a few years down the road, don't say I didn't warn you:

Subject: L4ST ALL N1GHT!!!

Tierd halfway thru? Use magik pads to 1ncrease your p0t3ncy! Recharg4e w1irelessly!!

- RG>

Cars (1)

abshnasko (981657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930723)

Why don't we power cars like this? I can see how 'charging' stations (or, I guess, tesla coils) can be installed every mile or so and be used to charge electric cars, making it so that recharging our electric cars becomes rare. I see this as an option to one's electric bill. It certainly would make owning an electric car a lot more practical, and more enviro-friendly. Yes I understand the power has to come from somewhere, but chances are the electricity is coming from, at least partially, renewable sources rather than burning gas. Is this feasible?

Re:Cars (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931971)

the power has to come from somewhere

roads made from solar panels, maybe?

Re:Cars (1)

digitrev (989335) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932729)

Where were you when I had mod points? This is actually an incredible idea. To add to it, charge people based on the mileage of their cars. Or keep a mini-computer inside it to keep track of how much energy it received over time. However, it'd take decades to get it working. And since people are so short-term based, I have very little hope in anything like this happening.

This needs to be standardized (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930731)

This is a great idea. But it needs to be standardized, so everything recharges from any pad. Otherwise we'll be back in wall transformer hell. This one is about the third scheme for doing this, and so far, they're incompatible.

If it's done totally wrong, there will be an encrypted handshake between the pad and the device receiving power, so only authorized devices can recharge. Like printer ink cartridges.

Re:This needs to be standardized (1)

no_brad_pitt (827987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932223)

Agreed - there is an obvious need for standardization.

Right now the closest thing to standardization is mini USB cable. When I was buying my latest iPAQ, I specifically wanted the one with mini USB power hole. I can now carry 1 2.5" external disk + iPAQ and just one cable.

In the world of mobiles, Nokia was always the most "charger friendly". Unfortunately, after many years they've changed it...

big deal, it's been done (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930769)

a guy named Tesla. you have a half-million volts running around the place, it doesn't take much of an antenna for induced voltage to hot up any circuit in the area.

not to mention, you can't pull big-ass arcs with a pencil off anything metal when you're near that little charge-o-pad, can you?

entertainment worth a few semiconductor junctions ;)

Battery slot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18930781)

Just build receivers that fit the battery slot.

Ye Another Ridiculouxs Tesla Power Idea (2, Insightful)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 7 years ago | (#18930985)

Folks, *think*. People worry about microwave ovens leaking milliwatts.

Here someone is suggesting letting free many watts.

Just ain't going to ever be approved.

It doesn't take much power, under a watt, to make instant cataracts. Ask any old radar operator.

Re:Ye Another Ridiculouxs Tesla Power Idea (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931189)

Have you never heard of a "phased array?" It is easy to cause an oscillating field to appear in a relatively small region of space. To allow a significant amount of field to leak would be stupid from an efficiency standpoint, not just a health standpoint.

Re:Ye Another Ridiculouxs Tesla Power Idea (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932435)

>Have you never heard of a "phased array?"

Yes I have. Please explain how that has anything to do with this subject.

We're talking about waves in the 10cm range. A phased array for this frequency range would be a whole lot larger than a laptop, and the focusing effects are only effective several wavelengths from the array. You'd have to make the whole room's ceiling one big phased array in order to deliver a few watts to a laptop-sized area. And the sidelobes would still be a couple factors of ten too strong for the legal limits. And if you accidentally wandered into the beam, instant cataracts!

My cordless toothbrush used an INDUCTIVE coil.. (1)

MrJerryNormandinSir (197432) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931519)

They could have used an inductive coil to transfer energy. It's much cheaper! An electric toothbrush I had
used this technoilogy. I'm also designing a charge pad for a robot I am designing, simple inductive
connection. it seems like some engineers don't understand AC electricity or the work that Nikola Tesla did.
No need for expensive pads!

Put it in a desk... (1)

mutube (981006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18931687)

Wireless Keyboards, Mice, Monitors, Printers all powered from the middle of a chunk of wood. I'd buy that.

My Oral B (1)

grnrckt94 (932158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932093)

My toothbrush does this already...

so does mine. (1)

Virgil Tibbs (999791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932743)

until this came up I had no idea how it worked:
its officially true that slashdot has a use.
educating stupid people like me.

Wireless Power Transmission (1)

Etherhelix (659139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932115)

Is a bit of a misnomer in this context. It's more appropraitely power for wireless devices is it not?

cablesheetdevice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18932791)

plastic sheets transferring power to cableless devices with cables powering plastic sheets...

American company received FCC approval (1)

NittanyTuring (936113) | more than 7 years ago | (#18932899)

There is an American company, Powercast [powercastco.com] , which is claiming to already have FCC approval for wireless power transmission.

The Long Way To Point B (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 7 years ago | (#18933113)

If everything needs to be connected to a special reciever for the pad to work, then what's the point of the pad? The only way such a "Transmission Sheet" would be logical is if it could power/recharge appliances SANS adapter.

So what if you could power a laptop? Here's the current method of powering a laptop versus their way:

Current Method:
1) Plug AC adapter into appliance.
*OR*
1) Plug appliance directly into wall.

Proposed Method:
1) Plug appliance into adapter.
2) Place appliance onto pad.
3) Plug AC adapter into pad

Most people have either an AC adapter at work, at home, or both, and the AC adapter is usually left plugged into the wall all the time. Plus, with a corded AC adapter, I can walk around the room, moving between the couch, chair, table, or floor without having to unplug or find a hard surface to plug my laptop into.

A pad is just another useless pice of crap idea to get in the way. It's a fancy way of being less efficient:

1) With a pad, you would need to find a flat surface to put it on, so the pad won't slide off of the surface and the laptop won't slide off the pad, and the pad will make uniform contact with the adapter.
2) The pad will, most likely, require it's own AC adapter. Another annoying cord to get in the way.
3) The adapter will probably plug into the existing AC adapter socket on the laptop, which means that if you want to use a regular AC adapter, you would first have to detach the adapter. I suppose you could put a corded ACA socket on the pad adapter, but then you would need to get the correct voltages, polarity, and post/barrel sizes (if your laptop uses a generic post/barrel configuration), or whichever adapter type the laptop's manufacturer uses. Additionally, you would need even more adapters is you want to use the thing on a plane, and finding space for your pad is unlikely, except if you travel First Class or Business Class. What's more is that a rigid plastic pad is going to take up space, and a flexible plastic pad could get creased, torn, or otherwise damaged.
4) The pad will have to be taken EVERYWHERE you take the laptop. If you want to take the laptop anywhere, you will be balancing the laptop on the pad. This also means that flexible "Power Sheets" are impractical.
5) Expect maddeningly slow recharge times compared to current bare-contact AC adapters. lage power transmission would most likeley result in a field that could possibly damage electronic circuis contained within the appliance.

With a standard AC adapter, all you do is plug in/unplug. Easy. If you want to travel, all you do is wind up the cord and stick it in your case. Most good AC adapters have interchangeable attachments for car and air travel that take up almost no additional space. Plus, AC adapter cords stay secured to the laptop. You can also move about the room carrying just the laptop: No additional equipment.

While interesting, this idea was a massive waste of time, effort, and money, since the old, low-tech plug/unplug method is far simpler and more adaptable then this whole "Power Sheet" concept.

The reason this technology hasn't gone very far past being used in toothbrushes, RFID, Maglev, and stovetops is because it is impractical to use it anywhere else.

High Tech? Yes. Practical? Hardly. Better than current Low-Tech technology? Definitely not!

It's not cordless: The pad still requires a cord to power it. Plus a specialized adapter sill has to be plugged into the laptop/appliance.

So much for Japanese efiiciency.
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