Coming Soon: Wireless Power for Mobile Devices

8 12 2006

If you read my previous post on “Choosing a PDA for Teaching and Learning,” you’ll already be aware of the importance of ensuring a mobile device has a good, long-lasting power supply, even if it means buying an extra battery for a device. There’s nothing more inconvenient than running out of power when you’re in the middle of some work; and having students run out of power during a field trip or situated learning activity may not just be an inconvenience, but could waste a valuable learning opportunity.

Part of the power paradigm is how a device is recharged. Pretty much all mobile devices are charged by means of a cable, with power supplied by a mains power socket or a USB port. However, each device can have different voltage, current, and plug form factor requirements, and that means that for extended periods of mobility, it’s necessary to carry a charger for each item. Furthermore, in a classroom situation, it may be necessary to recharge or power several devices at once, requiring multiple chargers for each set of classroom PDAs or media players. It can add up to a lot of bulky, tangled cords.

This could all change from the first quarter of 2007. A new technology from Wildcharge is able to simultaneously recharge multiple electronic devices with different power requirements, just by placing them on a flat, tablet-like surface. Theoretically, that would mean that this could become the only item you would need to carry to charge all of your mobile devices. The recharging platform can be made as thin as a few millimeters in thickness, from both rigid and flexible materials.

wildcharge2.jpg

Imagine being able to simultaneously recharge your phone, PDA, iPod, and digital camera just by placing them on your desk. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction; but if it lives up to the hype, it could significantly improve the usability of digital mobile devices, and further increase the practicality and potential of these devices for supporting teaching and learning.

The other kind of wireless power for mobile devices that’s planned for 2007 release is the use of fuel cells, running on methanol. My goodness. I can already see an ethanol-powered version becoming wildly popular with young university students, providing the ultimate convergence of a social, mobile tool and an equally social, mobile hip flask…

(via Gizmodo and Crunchgear and SlashPhone)

Update 4 Jan 2007: Visteon are releasing a wireless charger for cars next week.  Looks pretty cool:

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3 responses

10 12 2006
Franciov

[…] I have also found a web site that already offers wireless power for portable devices. Company name is Splashpower. First products incorporating Splashpower technology will become available during 2007. […]

11 12 2006
Cord Pereeira

While wireless charging is convenient, it still requires a power source. I think the goal is to eliminate the need for the power source and researchers should be looking for a new form of renewable energy to power devices . . . i.e building on the Fereday principle.

16 12 2006
Matthew Nehrling

Leonard,
I saw something recently that you would get a kick out of. The DOD is working on a recharging device that uses either Bluetooth or IR to recharge a small device. I don’t know all the technical details but basically, any device in range of the IR, for example, that has this module would recharge. The IR triggers a small high efficiency oscillator that acts like a generator. It is slow, but you could, in essence, recharge an entire conference room via IR or other wireless connection.

No, I don’t know the details, nor does the efficiency coefficient seem logical, but the DOD has done some amazing things in the past…

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