Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009 | 5:05 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
That mess of wires in your bag may have seen its last days.
The Powermat wireless charging station aims to rid you of that 'bird's nest' by creating a system that will charge multiple devices simultaneously without wires.
The Powermat consists of two parts: one base station that plugs into any power-outlet, and a special case made for your device such as a cell phone or iPod. When placed on the base station, the case transfers energy to your device an charging it in the same amount of time it takes to normally charge your device. The case, which adds a small amount of bulk to your device, is meant to stay on once it is installed.
The Powermat works by using magnetic induction to transfer energy between the base station and a number of cases that are placed on it. Because the Powermat is transferring energy and not electricity, the Powermat is believed to be completely safe. One demonstrator tested this by placing a Powermat powered light in a dish of water and then put her hand in the water while the light was on and didn't get shocked.
The special Powermat cases are available for several devices already such as the iPhone and some Blackberries. More cases are also being developed. Additionally, a wired adaptor is available with different tips that fit most devices.
Powermat products were just announced at CES 2009 and expect to be released later this year. Base stations will sell for around $100 and individual charging cases will sell for $30.
Future plans include embedding Powermat technology into the devices themselves which would eliminate the need for special cases. As part of the demonstration at CES, a kitchen counter and desk equipped with Powermat 'hotspots' wirelessly powered everyday devices such as a kitchen mixer, a lamp and a laptop computer.