Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Converged devices? WLL!

WLL - that's the acronymn for a favourite Singaporean expression: wait long long (or dang gu gu in Hokkien). ANALysts have been harping about converged devices for as long as I can remember, many of them focusing on how devices will converge - PDA and mobile phone; mobile phone and MP3 player; mobile phone and digital camera; and now, mobile phone and game console. But their predictions failed to take into account one key problem converged devices face: power consumption, and by that extension, power replenishment.

The more functions converge, the higher the likelihood these devices will need more juice to run. Otherwise, you will constantly run into the "where can I charge this damned thing" dilemma halfway through another episode of Prison Break on your so-called smartphone, provided that damned thing hasn't exploded in your face. Sure, manufacturers can beef up such devices by adding a bigger battery, but they'll have to consider weight and safety issues. After all, you wouldn't want to carry a converged device larger than your Samsonite and have it leaked electrolyte as you lug it around airports.

Or better still, use disposable AA/AAA batteries. But I shall leave the argument against it to environmentalists.

So any talk of converged devices is premature unless we come up with an ingenious way to keep these devices powered wirelessly. Thus far, I know of no solution that solves this problem, but the video below of Powermat's wireless power system (demo'ed at CES) is probably as close as it gets to wireless charging of devices.



However, in order for a device to get its power from Powermat's mat, it needs to be in a special jacket with power coils designed into it. Each jacket has to be made specifically for each device. (Translation: this is gonna cost you!). Furthermore, I suspect Powermat's solution is plagued with low efficiency and possible power loss, given the large charging surface.


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