New Power

Two new power technologies may change the way you plug things in - forever.

Universal Power Adapters

Last year startup Green Plug convinced consumer electronics maker Westinghouse to commit to using its technology for a universal power adapter. Currently, devices such as laptops, iPods, digital cameras, and cell phones that plug into a wall socket to recharge each use their own transformer, and they typically cannot be shared. In today's world that means an ever-increasing number of "wall warts" that take up space and provide an unwieldy collection of power cords for consumers.

Green Plug's technology allows for multiple devices to share a "smart" transformer so consumers can have one plug that fits all their devices. When connected, the device essentially tells the transformer the right settings to use. It can also turn off power when the device is fully charged or disconnected.

Businesses hope that eventually they can stop shipping power adapters with every single device, since users will already have one. Environmental groups look forward to reducing the number of estimated 3 billion power adapters shipped each year worldwide.

Wireless Charging

It's not a brand new idea, but it is coming for iPods, laptops, and cell phones. Ever looked at a high-end toothbrush or waterproof shaver? Notice that it does not have metal contacts. The device is charged through the plastic without a direct electrical connection. Similar technology can be used for a "charging pad" on which devices can be placed to charge automatically.

Progress is also being made on using radio to charge very small devices like RFID chips on shipping palettes, from up to 30 feet away.

December 2008

Send this article to a friend!
Subscribe to The ITS Connection

Related articles