[Note: FTW=for the win, for those of you who don’t waste your time in the jargon of the tubez of the Interwebz.-ed.]
I am glad to hear that the big buzz from the Consumer Electronics Show 2009 is induction chargers for electronic devices. Wikipedia’s got a nice explanation of inductive charging if you are not familiar with the idea; if you want an example, think about your electric toothbrush and its base. No exposed metal contacts, and yet the toothbrush charges, although it does take a long time.
At CES the induction charger that’s producing this buzz is the Powermat. It’s a fold-out mat with a plug; you plug it in, you lay the device on the mat, and the device charges by induction. Powermat claims to have a proprietary technology that decreases the charging time that has plagued induction chargers for years. This LA Times blog post gives some more details:
What makes wireless induction chargers so alluring is that it frees absent-minded geeks from having to keep track of their chargers and periodically having to untangle the rat’s nest created by these
blastedcords. Powermat showed off how its chargers can juice up iPods, hand-held game consoles, cellphones and laptops all at once. …
Of course, the mat itself needs to be plugged into the wall, so it’s not completely wireless. But it does cut down the number of wires required to charge devices. …
Each mat will cost around $100. But that’s not all. You’ll also have to buy receivers — doodads that connect your devices to the mats and conduct the charge. Those will set you back around $30 a pop. So waving goodbye to wired chargers might also mean parting with a good chunk of change.
It’s also not clear whether or not you use more electricity to charge the device using inductive charging than direct current charging. So let’s not be premature in declaring “induction chargers FTW!” But advancements in inductive charging are a welcome innovation, and some early adopters will buy them, and they are likely to follow the development and market path that most new technologies do. If induction chargers provide consumers with greater convenience and with more confidence that their devices will have a charge more of the time, then I expect there to be a place in the market for them. How far that penetrates into the mass market will depend on the technology’s evolution and pricing.