Powermat wants to charge your desktop

John C. Tanner
19 Feb 2010

One of the more whiz-bang technologies at the Mobile World Congress is Powermat’s wireless chargers, but Powermat is banking more on furniture companies than handset makers to take the concept to more impressive heights.

Powermat showcased its portfolio of wireless charging mats – first seen at last month’s CES show in Las Vegas – which use magnetic induction to charge batteries in mobile devices, to include game consoles and laptops. The charging time is the same as a standard charger.

While the Powermat pitch is to eliminate the need to plug a charger into the handset, there’s slightly more to it than that – the mat has to be plugged in, and the handset itself needs a magnetic case to draw power from the mat. And neither are cheap – a mat and casing can run you at least $140.

That said, Powermat had some handsets on display in which its technology was already embedded. Also, the Powermat gets around the problem of proprietary chargers, said Abhi Naha, head of business development for Powermat’s network operators and OEMs unit.

Of course, that’s what the GSMA’s universal charger initiative aims to do, but Naha said the company is “observing the standard’s progress” and sees no reason why wireless chargers can’t co-exist with a universal charger.

In any case, Naha said that what Powermat ultimately hopes to achieve is creating surfaces such as tabletops rigged with magnetic induction technology.

“The idea is to create surface charging where you can charge multiple devices, so if you go to a bar or restaurant, the table can charge your device,” he told telecomasia.net. “It’s a bit futuristic, but we are talking with furniture manufacturers and construction companies to get them to adopt this kind of technology.”

Naha said that Powermat has been pricing the embedded version of its device technology “competitively” to encourage mass adoption, but has been focusing on surface charging as the key business driver.

Meanwhile, Powermat isn’t yet available in Asia. Naha said the company is in talks with potential distribution partners, including retailers and cellcos.

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