Wireless-power pioneers band together

Circle wagons against credit crunch


The Wireless Power Consortium has opened its doors in the hope of building standards for wirelessly recharging gadgets, and perhaps even getting some products into the market.

The Consortium includes pioneers such as Fulton Innovation and ConvienientPower Limited, and silicon manufacturers such as National Semiconductor and Texas Instruments, but more interestingly also counts Logitech and Sanyo amongst its members - which is where the hope for real products comes from.

Aside from electronic toothbrushes, proximity power systems haven't enjoyed a lot of success. Demonstrations of cooking on a wirelessly-powered grill, and blending without cables, have both failed to galvanise the gadget industry to stick inductive chargers in everything. Fulton Innovation has had some success with a water-purification product, where delivering electricity wirelessly is technically useful, but appealing to a wider audience has proved more difficult.

The Consortium website contains lots of pretty graphs showing efficiency and reflected impedance and stuff like that. Still, the statement (from Fulton Innovation) that "electronic devices continue to draw electricity while the products are turned off... 75 percent of all electricity used to power electronics is consumed when products are not in use" is surely something of a generalisation, and the assertion that proximity power delivery can solve this problem by delivering less power needs considerably more explanation to be believable.

Fulton has recently signed a deal with Energizer, to develop portable commercial lighting. The battery giant is not part of the Wireless Power Consortium, and is only examining proximity charging as one technology in which they might be interested; but the very presence of the name lends some credence to the idea.

The presence of Logitech in the Consortium opens up the interesting possibility of, say, a wireless mouse that recharges from its mouse mat - a mat that could then charge other devices sporting the technology, assuming that a significant number of such devices are ever manufactured. ®

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