The great thing about CES is that every now and then an unknown shows off something cool. I’d never heard of Fulton Innovation but they have smart products based around wireless power transmission. Todd learns more about eCoupled from Dave Baarman.
Fulton Innovation have developed an inductive coupling solution that scales from simply making a magazine cover light up as you walk past to being able to charge a whole bag of devices without taking them out of the bag. Electric cars could be recharged by parking in the right spot and not by plugging them in.
Not all of these products are ready for market just yet, but inductive charging efficiencies are on a par with plug-in chargers though economies of scale are needed to bring the prices down to a point where it’s built-in as standard. Palm’s Pre range of smartphones used inductive charging with the Touchstone and the Motorola Droid 4 has inductive charging as an option. As a Pre 3 owner, it’s brilliant not having to fiddle with cables and I hope more devices come to the market with inductive charging in 2012.
At CES International 2012, PowerSkin has announced new portable power solutions for smartphones and other rechargeable devices. SolarCharge, Key Charge and Gaming Skins are all designed to keep the mobile user going for longer.
The SolarCharge is a universal charger for all types of smartphone including iPhone, Android and Blackberry, and it comprises a 1000 mAh battery paired with a solar panel in a one-piece housing. The SolarCharge recharges smartphones (and other devices) via a supplied micro-USB connector and other connectors are available for non-standard devices. The battery in the SolarCharge itself is recharged via USB from a PC, via a micro-USB mains charger or from the sun through the solar panel, so there are plenty of options for the mobile user. The blue rubberised skin has embedded LEDs to show the battery’s charge level.
The KeyCharge has a smaller capacity at 750 mAh and is intended for a quick boost rather than a full recharge. Small enough to fit on a keychain, the KeyCharge only comes with a micro-USB connector and consequently is not suitable for use with iPhones or iPods. Two variants are available to cater for the different positions of the micro-USB connector on smartphones, i.e. side or bottom. As with the SolarCharge, the KeyCharge is recharged via a micro-USB connector, either from a PC or from a mains adaptor.
Also on display at CES will be PowerSkin’s Gaming Skins for iOS and Nintendo 3DS, which were announced in December 2011, along with an array of battery-boosting smartphone skins for all the popular makes.
Jeffrey Powers talks to David Wang and Joshua Caillavet of General Electric about the GE EV Watt station, which is a charging station for electric cars. This is a level 2 charger, operating from 240V, rather than 110V, giving shorter recharge times for EVs (electric vehicles), say 4 to 8 hours, rather than 15 to 18 hours associated with a level 1 charger.
Fortunately, common sense seems to have prevailed with electric cars and a charging connector standard has been agreed by the manufacturers, so there shouldn’t be any compatibility problems between chargers and EVs.
Engineering qualities* Aesthetic and design qualities
The product’s intended use/function and user value
Unique/novel features that consumers would find attractive
How the design and innovation of the product compares to other products in the marketplace.
A winning device in this category for CES 2011 is the Energizer Inductive Charger What makes this charger different from other chargers is it uses the Qi standard. This means that any device that is also Qi enabled can use this charger no matter the manufacture, including mp3 players, digital cameras and phones. Devices are enabled by placing them in a sleeve that are then placed on the charger. Energizer will be introducing a QI sleeve for the Iphone 4 and also the Blackberry Curve 8900 along with their already existing sleeves for the Iphone 3GS/3G. As this standard catches on we can expect to see more sleeves for more devices. The Energizer Inductive Charger has two charging zones and a usb port for more charging possibilities. The charge itself will be around $89.00 and the sleeves will run around $35.00. Hopefully at some point the sleeves will no longer be necessary and Qi will become part of devices. I also wonder how well this device will work in a real world situation.
The Energizer Recharge Smart also won a CES Innovation 2011 Design and Engineering Award Honorees in the Portable Power Category. This recharging systems allows the user to see exactly how much juice is left in the batter, How long it will take to charge it. The Energizer Recharge Smart will also tell you if the battery is no longer rechargeable or if you put the wrong type of battery in the charger. The Energizer Recharge Smart charges both AA and AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries. The charger will have a MSPR of $19.99. As people have more portable devices having an easy way to charge them becomes increasingly important.