Can you imagine placing your cellphone on a Starbucks table and seeing it charge instantly?
Gainesville, Fla.-based WiPower (pronounced "y"-power) is manufacturing wireless-charging technology that could potentially facilitate just that.
Ryan Tseng founded WiPower after he realized how burdening it is to travel with bundles of chargers.
His frustration resulted in WiPower's wireless power transmitter, a mouse pad-like device that connects to a wall with one cord. Devices with an integrated power receiver placed upon the mat start charging immediately.
The product uses inductive coupling, a technology electric toothbrushes have used for years now, mostly because it shields their components from water. Earlier this year, Palm introduced its Touchstone charger, which uses this technology.
WiPower's charging mat simultaneously powers multiple devices in any position with different power requirements. For example, a digital camera requires much more power than an iPod Shuffle, but both can be charged with a WiPower.
"WiPower realized that a coreless inductive wireless power system truly makes the most sense because it is an efficient, small, low-cost solution, while still being applicable to the wide variety of power requirements that our mobile devices have," says Henoch Senbetta, the company's marketing director.
But the greatest obstacle until now has been electrical efficiency, as inductive chargers generally max out at 30-40 percent efficiency. This is pretty inefficient, as a quality wired power cable boasts 75-85 percent. After pulling endless all-nighters in the lab, WiPower was able to give its charging mat 60 percent efficiency.
WiPower's technology is available only to manufacturers looking to integrate the technology and the built-in commercial applications like cafe tables, counter tops, or desks in school libraries. WiPower's technology also has military and industrial applications, and it recently received a grant of $70,000 from the U.S. government to work on a wireless power pack.