CES 2009: Nikola Tesla-like induction chargers finally here

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CES 2009: Nikola Tesla-like induction chargers finally here

Las Vegas (NV) – For years, induction chargers have been available for small power products like electric toothbrushes. Until just recently though, their method of charging did not occur fast enough to charge the larger, high power consuming electronics devices – such as cameras, cell phones and laptop PCs. That has now changed.

These newest lines of induction chargers are finally capable of producing the same charge as a traditional A/C adapter, but without the troublesome cord.

CES has been the debut of Powermat, which showed off their new product. The allure of wireless induction charges is that you won’t have untangle cords, or worry about lost chargers anymore.

Powermat showed their chargers are capable of charging handhelds, cell phones, laptops, and iPods, all simultaneously. The company claims that their product can wirelessly charge a wall-mounted flatscreen television, which they will prove by demonstration at their display booth later in the week.

The Powermat must be plugged into the wall to operate, so the charging device itself is not wireless. However, it does reduce the number of cords required to charge your devices. All they have to do is be moved inside Powermat’s magnetic field.

The Powermats are supposed to come to market this Fall, and will be available in five different models:

1) Family mat – used to charge up to six gadgets simultaneously

2) A smaller fold-up mat – to be used for travel

3) PC mat – for charging laptop PCs

4) Desk mat – It’s also equipped with a wireless speaker (I’d assume for the use of MP3 players and handhelds)

5) Bedside mat – with a rechargeable clock

The mats will be priced in the $100 range. But you’ll have to purchase other devices in order to use them. You’ll need a receiver which mates up with your devices to conduct the charge. While these receivers are physical devices, they do not have cords. They are simple mounts, or storage areas, which can hold your device as it’s being recharged. The receivers will be priced around $30 each.

Getting rid of your wired chargers could prove to be quite the costly life change.

Sidenote by Rick C. Hodgin

Nikola Tesla created the induction motor using a similar principle – that nearby magnetic fields could cause rotation in an electric motor, and do so without physical conduction of electricity via the alternate method, which uses brushes. It has also been widely reported, though to my knowledge never replicated, that Nikola Tesla later powered a car at speeds of nearly 100 mph using a similar technology of broadcast energy emitted from a distant tower. Tiny antennas in the vehicle received the power, which then powered a huge A/C electric motor (over 70hp if memory serves).

The “Tesla Tower” he created appears to be a very large scale version of what we’re seeing today with these induction chargers. They send out power through the air, which is then received by the receiver device. Once received and converted into traditional electric power flowing through wires, it’s then fed into the electronics device.

If true, then I wonder if we couldn’t scale this technology up again to Tesla’s scale, allowing vehicles to be powered similarly? Or maybe it’s enough to just have something like an in-garage charging station for an electric car? Something that doesn’t have to be physically plugged in, but whenever the electric car is parked in the garage it’s automatically being charged wirelessly.

I’m sure there are a lot of ideas for this kind of technology. To me, the idea of “unwiring” myself could is very appealing.