We think these solutions have that whizz-bang factor of combining simple utility with technology that makes you go “hmm” in spades, so we need to tell you all about Powermat, which launches its “revolutionary” range of wireless charging systems today in the US and UK (shipping next week, we believe).
‘Oh enough of the hyperbole already, just what does this stuff do?,’ you ask, well, here’s the skinny: Powermat allows you to charge your iPhone, BlackBerry, iPod, PSP, Nintendo DS etc just by attaching a special receiver to the device and then placing them on the mat. No wires, no bulky rechargers, no need to remember which charger works with which device.
The first products in Powermat’s range of wireless charging systems are dubbed Powermat Home & Office and Powermat Portable.
They use wireless energy transfer, combining an ultra-thin mat with a receiver that connects to your device. Place an enabled device on the Powermat and the mat and receiver will work together to recharge up to three devices at once. Charging occurs at the same rate or faster than if the device was using a standard charger plugged into an electrical socket, even when multiple devices are placed on the Mat.
A further device can be charged via a USB cable, making Powermat able to charge four devices at the same time.
It’s a little bit Green, too, as Powermat only generates energy when a device with a Powermat receiver is placed on the mat. It stops when that connection is broken, making it more energy efficient compared than standard chargers which are frequently left plugged in when not being used and consume unnecessary energy when they are plugged in.
How the technology works
Inductive coupling transfers energy via a magnetic field from a charging circuit inside the mat to another charging circuit in the receiver which is embedded in, or attached to, the device. The uniqueness of the Powermat technology lies in its intelligent power management features:
When the mat and the device are in immediate proximity, an RFID “handshake process” evokes to identify:
1. if there is a valid connection between the mat and the device,
2. the amount of power required, and its existing level of stored battery power,
3. which component in the Mat should be activated to transfer the required power. Then and only then does the transfer of electricity begin.
The connection is monitored at all times and the power transmission will cease once the connection is broken.
Powermat receivers are currently available for the iPhone, iPods, BlackBerry and Nintendo DS Lite and DSi devices. Consumers can also purchase the Powermat Powercube which comes with eight unique tips including mini USB to connect to additional devices such as Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG handsets as well as Sony PSP consoles.
The products are available at various locations in the UK, where Carphone Warehouse CEO Andrew Harrison, seems intrigued, saying: “We believe that this product will completely revolutionise the way we power our electric devices, using unique cutting-edge technology. This ground-breaking device could one day see us all using one charger for all our gadgets, and doing away with all those tangled wires.”
Now, these things aren’t cheap – the Home and Office mat costs £69.99 in the UK or $99.99 in the US; while the Portable Mat costs £79.99 in the UK or $99.99 in the US. Receivers costs vary – an iPhone or iPod touch receiver costs an additional £34.99 (UK) or $39.99 (US). Despite the relatively high price, we do think this new technology is interesting just of itself.
Powermat also has a product roadmap which it says “paves the way for the truly wireless home”.
If you’d like to find out a little more about these solutions, then here’s the relevant Amazon pages:
US Powermat page
UK Powermat page..