03 January 2012

Technology for the sake of it?

Christmas, eh? All those useful presents.
Working as we do in the technology world, it's easy to get swept along by the flow of new products and ideas. But, once in a while, you realise that some devices are dreamed up simply because they can be.

Here's an example. Someone was good enough to give me a wireless charging mat for Christmas; I got quite excited about the idea for a while; after all, it's wireless, isn't it? Then I thought a bit more.
The wireless charger is a two part kit, essentially. One part is the charging mat, the other is an inductive 'cube', which transfers energy to the device you wish to charge.
First thing to do is to plug the mat into a wall socket (see where this is going?). You then select the appropriate adaptor, fit this to the lead coming from the inductive cube and plug in whichever device you need to charge. Put the cube on the mat, switch on at the mains and you're up and running.
My problem is working out how this improves on my current charging arrangements, which are: use the charger supplied with the device; charge the device via a usb port on my pc; or use a usb adaptor, courtesy of someone like Maplins, which plugs into the wall.
Top of the list of criticisms? It's not really wireless; it plugs into a wall socket. Followed by the cost. My usb adaptor – the most expensive investment of my three options – costs a couple of pounds; this wireless charging set probably retails for around £40. Neither is it exactly what you'd call portable and it didn't come with a UK plug, so I'll need to use a US adaptor to get it running.
Don't get me wrong; I'm pleased to receive gifts and it is, after all, the thought that counts. But I'm still trying to work out how this particular piece of kit beats the existing arrangements.
Yet there is a future for wireless charging or, more accurately, wireless transmission of power. While, in this example, there needs to be direct contact between charging mat and inductive cube, that distance will increase in the future, so your phone will charge when it's within a given distance of a charging point. And those charging points could be anywhere and in any thing.

Graham Pitcher

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