Gizmos & Gadgets: Powermat – a Wireless Mat that Keeps Electronic Devices Powered

Imagine never having your smartphone, tablet, music player or GPS device run out of power. That’s the goal of Powermat, a wireless charging technology that is being embedded into consumer electronics, automobiles, and furniture from office desks to restaurant tables to name just a few of the many places where it is being adopted. It is so appealing that 100 manufacturers have joined to form an alliance to make global wireless charging services ubiquitous.

How does it work? When a Powermat-enabled device is placed on the Powermat, featuring magnetic induction, the device receives energy from the mat wirelessly. The mat and device seamlessly interact so that once the device is fully recharged no more electricity flows between the two.

One of Powermats key partners is Duracell, the battery manufacturer which is a division of Procter & Gamble. Duracell has developed access casings and compatible Powermats for popular phones like the iPhone4, 4S and 5 as well as the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Other partners in the alliance are embedding Powermat into all kinds of surfaces from coffee shop tables, to cars, to fast food counters, sports venues, airports and lines of furniture. Starbucks and McDonald’s have Powermat technology in selected locations. In New York City, Powermats can be found at Madison Square Garden, the Barclay Center and Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club. General Motors has plans to build Powermat technology into its vehicles.

As of mid-May 2013 Powermat could be found in 2,500 locations, mostly in the U.S. and Europe. But the technology should spread quickly through its growing alliance to become a defacto industry standard for wireless recharging. Its primary competition comes from Qi, a technology that has its own alliance of partners including Intel, Qualcomm and Nokia, with the latter’s mobile technology recently acquired by Microsoft.

The ultimate goal of Powermat’s founders is to make power for portable electronic devices available to the same extent that WiFi hotspots are today. The competition between Powermat and Qi should do the trick I would think.


Starbucks Powermat photo

Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...