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Start-ups partner on universal wireless charger

Green Plug and WiPower are seeking to eliminate wires from the charging process by creating a pad that wirelessly transmits power to portable devices.

Green Plug's twist port universal charger. Green Plug

Start-ups Green Plug and WiPower are working together on a universal wireless charger for portable devices, the companies said Thursday.

The partnership makes sense since GreenPlug has developed a protocol to allow power sources and portable devices to communicate, while WiPower has invented technology to transmit power wirelessly over short distances.

Green Plug's universal chargers allow portable electronic devices containing its embedded Greentalk chip to be charged from a universal port. Once a device is plugged in to a Green Plug charger port, the charger's Greentalk protocol reads the chip inside the device to determine the power supply needed to charge it. It then tunes its power output to charge the device accordingly.

WiPower has a developed technology that can transmit power over short distances wirelessly. You can place a device on a WiPower pad in any position, and it automatically begins recharging.

Powermat makes a wireless charging dock that works with cases made for specific devices. Powermat

Here's the caveat. For this to become a reality, manufacturers must opt to embed Greentalk chips into their products instead of offering individual power adapters for each model they make.

The idea is considered green because millions of chargers are thrown away each year when people buy new devices and discard the old chargers. Embracing the Greentalk chip could theoretically prevent millions of chargers from being manufactured in the first place.

The idea is not entirely unique, though. Powermat makes a pad for wirelessy charging any Powermat-enabled device. In order to work with it, the device must be placed inside a special case that houses a Powermat receiver programmed to work with the charger and a specific device's needs. Users can also buy a cube with eight different types of ports that can sit on the mat and be plugged in to compatible devices.