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CES 2009: Powermat: Contact Based Device Charging

Gordon Kelly


CES 2009: Powermat: Contact Based Device Charging

It may be at its worst when travelling, but the amount of chargers we end up carrying these days is no laughing matter in the home either - so could this at last be the answer? Well, yes and no.

The 'Powermat' is the latest stab at contact based wireless charging and while it gets a number of new key factors right, it also carries one major downside.

On the surface (pun unintended but encouraged), the Powermat is a highly desirable solution that works by simply placing your gadgets onto a slim metal matt which is itself connected to a mains socket. You can charge as many devices as you can fit onto it and it is also powerful enough to charge a laptop via an adaptor. A vast array of casings are available for devices too and you can even get modules for charging batteries themselves.

Sadly the downside is simple: the casings themselves are just too bulky. In short this means you either a) are forced to significantly increase the bulk and weight of any product in your pocket or b) you need to remove and reinsert the device into its contact charging cover each time you want to power it up - destroying the convenience of such a system. In fact, compared to something as elegant as the solution for the Palm Pre it feels positively arcane.

That said, I'm not going to come down too hard on the Powermat since it works very well and will undoubtedly be of great use to many. I also understand that far thinner casings should be available in the future and at that point you're suddenly getting a protective cover and convenient charging solution in one.

All good thingsā€¦


January 12, 2009, 7:06 pm

I think the casings are an ugly, but necessary, temporary solution to solve the chicken and egg problem. Once enough contact/proximity chargers of a given standard are in people's homes, device manufacturers will start to build the necessary circuitry into devices. But they won't start to do that until there is an established standard with a sufficient user-base to justify the additional manufacturing cost, so until then we're stuck with adaptor casings.

Technology changes, and so sho

January 12, 2009, 7:32 pm

Palm's Pre must be using something similar to SplashPower's solution that could be built _into_ the target device (although they'd be foolish to use SplashPower's actual technology if they could develop their own as it would save on licensing fees).

I've read reports raving about this wireless charging and remain unconvinced. You're replacing lots of dedicated and small chargers with one mat that is large (even if they do make a foldable variant).

Also, the power supply to it has to be huge to charge all the devices on it at a decent rate and take into account the inherent inefficiency of wireless charging.

Did anyone mention how long it takes to charge devices from various power supplies with various loads on the mat?


January 12, 2009, 8:57 pm

@Technology - sadly not as they claimed they were not the manufacturers of the devices themselves. That seemed a cop out though so we'll just have to try and get one in the labs ;)

I also think your point is particularly relevant for laptops.


January 12, 2009, 10:50 pm

Surely you can just remove the battery?


January 13, 2009, 11:24 pm

Maybe is based in electromagnetic technology to be charges but i still remain faithfully to my usb for charging devices at home maybe could work this devices in airports bus stations parks and could be attached with magnets so u just place one in a walls, park seats or places where u can find wifi connections too ...

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