If Powermat USA gets it's wish, the days of power cord spaghetti stuffed under desks and behind couches could be nearing an end. The company (a joint venture between Michigan-based HoMedics and Israel/New York-based PowerMat, Ltd.) hopes to launch a line of wireless charging systems this Fall. Using the principles of magnetic induction, the Powermat charging systems are designed to work with a variety of gadgets—smartphones, digital cameras, portal game systems, MP3 players, and more. At CES 2009, I got a chance to tour Powermat's booth and check out their technology. As they company hoped to release it's products this Fall, I'm interested to see if they follow through.
Wireless power and induction charging systems aren't a new concept. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Nikola Tesla championed wireless power transmission. More recently, company's like Braun and Philips use induction systems to charge a variety devices—like electric toothbrushes. And, Powermat isn't the only company in the induction game either. Fulton Innovation's eCoupled has been working on wireless power systems for some time and the company has partnered with heavyweights in the battery and electronics markets (Philips, Duracell, Olympus, National Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, Samsung and others) to form the Wireless Power Consortium. Some device manufacturers are even providing their own wireless charging solutions. For example, Palm launched the Touchstone charging system to be used with the Palm Pre.
It seems that the wireless power market is just starting to heat up. And as products start to make their way to the consumer, we'll see which standards and which companies come out on top. Whether it's Powermat or another company, I'll just be glad to finally cut all those cables.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.