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Procter & Gamble, owner of the Duracell brand, has announced a joint venture with induction-charging effort Powermat, with P&G having the controlling interest in the new Duracell Powermat.

Powermat gets an undisclosed lump of cash and a 45 per cent interest in the operation, which will develop Duracell-branded products incorporating the Powermat's wireless charging technology. The deal isn't exclusive and Duracell Powermat could switch technologies in the future - but one way or another there will be wireless charging coming from Duracell.

That's in consumer retail. Powermat kit being built into cars made by General Motors and (we're told) office furniture will still be Powermat branded and supplied without P&G's involvement, but the stuff in the shops should start being branded Duracell from early next year.

This is probably bad news for Duracell's myGrid product, which already competes with Powermat. Both technologies require the back of one's phone to be replaced or wrapped in a new casing, but myGrid relies on cunningly placed pins resting on the right plates rather than the truly-wireless induction method used by Powermat.

But despite being technically impressive, Powermat hasn't made any great inroads and hasn't achieved the all-important incorporation into devices that's needed to make the technology really useful. Powermat envisions desks equipped with invisible chargers that supply current to anything laid on top of them, but that will only work if lots of devices support the standard and don't need bulky (and expensive) retro-fitted cases.

Which is why Duracell Powermat is keeping its technical options open, so the brand can live on even if some other standard takes off.

But that still assumes wireless charging will take off, which is far from certain: punters have learnt to keep the right chargers handy and charging gadgets over USB has removed much of the frustration around keeping things powered up.

Wireless charging remains cool but pointless at best, something that won't change even when it has a copper top. ®

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