Monday, November 16, 2009

Wireless Recharging

Wireless phones, wireless drills, wireless headphones - it seems that everything is going wireless. If that is the case, why do we have so many wires when it comes to keeping all these wireless devices powered up and ready to perform their marvelous tasks? Look around the kitchen counter. I bet there are more than a few chargers for the cell phones, iPods or Bluetooth headsets. How many more are squirreled away in the junk drawer no longer compatible with the new gizmos? Forget about any standardization allowing you to use the same charger for many different devices. While several European countries have agreed to develop a universal charger for all cell phones, in the US we are not even close to such an idea. Even if we adopt the same charger for all models of cell phones, we still will need to do the same for the myriad other devices.

Enter the “new kid on the block”: wireless battery charging. A few manufacturers now have products that can recharge all those electronic devices with no wires (or to tell the truth, only one wire). The system uses magnetic induction to transfer electricity. You can ask your high school Physics teacher to explain how this works, but you have to admit it sounds high tech.

One device is called a Power Mat. It is a thin pad that resembles a rubber door mat. You plug the mat into a standard AC power outlet and it is ready to charge most any battery powered rechargeable device. To be used with the Power Mat, each device must either be compatible with wireless charger technology or you need to add an adapter to each device. Once so modified you can forget about all those chargers. Instead of plugging in chargers for each device, you just place each device on the Power Mat. The charging is done wirelessly.

You can keep each device on the mat for as long as you wish as it will sense when each device is fully charged and stop charging. While there is a modest savings in electricity by using one Power Mat rather than two or three separate charges, the amount that is saved is miniscule. The convenience of having a single place to store all these devices when you are at home is a real plus. Many people will place a Power Mat on a table or counter near the door. When you walk in, you place your cell phone or MP3 player on the mat and when you leave again it will be charged.

Power Mat is available at most electronics retailers and will cost about $150 once you figure in the special adapters you will need for each of your devices. While this technology is somewhat new, look for other products that will use this wireless transfer of electricity. Oh yes, how cool will it be to tell your friends that you charge your cell phone with “magnetic induction transfer technology”?

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