Wireless Charging

Orée Pebble 2 is a beautiful natural material Qi charger looking for Kickstarter backers

For those who want to add a little bit of luxury to their smartphone, Orée has created a wireless charging block that's fashioned out of a single block of wood or marble and integrates a speaker and microphone for speakerphone calls. For a Kickstarter pledge starting at $200, the Orée Pebble 2 is an elegantly designed cylinder that sits on your desk and bedside stand so you can merely set a smartphone with Qi wireless charging technology on top of the Pebble 2 and it will begin charging without requiring any wires.

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Should Apple have included wireless charging in the iPhone 5? [Poll]

Should Apple have included wireless charging in the iPhone 5?

One of the many things we didn't get at Apple's big iPhone 5 event was wireless charging. Palm has inductive charging all the way back to 2009 and the original Palm Pre and TouchStone. Samsung incorporated resonance charging into the new Galaxy S III, and Nokia showed off wireless charging with the upcoming Lumia 920. Apple, however, is sticking to wired and the new Lightning.

Apple SVP of Marketing, Phil Schiller, recently said:

[Wireless] charging systems still have to be plugged into the wall, so it’s not clear how much convenience they add. The widely-adopted USB cord, meanwhile, can charge in wall outlets, computers and even on airplanes. Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated.

But what do you think? Did Apple lose a step by not including wireless charging? If so, is it a big enough problem to be a deal-breaker to you or just one more minor annoyance? Do you think Apple is still waiting but will introduce wireless charging one day? Could you care less? Or are you happy Apple is sticking to traditional, albeit smaller, hardline power solutions?

You know the drill! Vote up top and leave me a comment below saying why you voted the way you did!

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Powermat intros new iPhone 4 case, augmented reality app

Powermat had a decent presence at CES 2012, not only by showing off their first Duracell co-branded iPhone 4 case and wireless charging pad, but also announcing their first app. Powermat has partnered with Madison Square Garden so that when you place your iPhone onto one of the mats built into the counters in the box seats, the app will give you the option to check in via Facebook Places. While that's cool, and sets the stage for a future cross-section of location-based social networks and wireless charging, the real function of the Powermat app is to find charging locations with augmented reality; just point your iPhone's camera in any given direction, and you'll see which spots have a Powermat installed. Favorite places don't have one? You can also use the app to vote on locations you'd like to see sporting some charging mats. Powermat can then use those votes to convince businesses to buy a few. Of course, the app will also issue a notification when you're running low on battery life, and prompt you to launch into a search. One of the more interesting uses for Powermats in businesses is the notion of monetizing charging, so you'd have to pay another buck or two to activate the charging mat. Sure, it seems like a bit of a money grab, especially if Powermat ends up skimming some of that revenue for themselves, but certainly an interesting opportunity for business owners of call kinds. Sure, it's handy having a few mats around the house to charge, but it's when you're out on the town that you're likely to need a charge the most, so I'm really excited for these to become a more common sight. The Duracell partnership is cool firstly because it puts stand-alone wirelessly-charging batteries on the horizon, but also because Duracell is a early member of the Qi Consortium, so Powermat may eventually lead the charge in a global interoperable standard for the technology. Smartphone manufacturers will definitely be much more likely to start building in receivers if Powermat has managed to sell a bunch of compatible mats to the public already. The new iPhone 4 case, charging puck, pad, and app are due out in the Spring. Hit the jump for a video rundown (sorry for the obnoxious lighting).

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Apple, WiTricity, and wireless charging

With rumors of Apple exploring new ways to charge iPhones and iPads, MacRumors pulls together threads from a company called WiTricity, which is based wireless charging research from MIT, and puts it together with an Apple patent application that surfaced earlier this year.

Apple describes a scenario where your iMac could be the source of this resonance power to provide a virtual charging area in front of your computer. Keyboards, mice and even mobile electronic devices like the iPhone or iPad could be charged simply be being in a 1 meter proximity to your computer. In typical Apple fashion, they describe that "by doing away with clumsy and annoying cables and eliminating the need to replace batteries, an easy to use and efficient local computing environment can be provided to the user."

So unlike <a href="http://www.precentral.net/"tags/touchstone">HP/Palm's TouchStone, it wouldn't require direct contact, just proximity. Whether or not Apple is or will work with WiTricity, or does anything with wireless charging any time soon, it's interesting to see what's being explored in the labs.

I've used inductive charging with the Pre Plus and with PowerMat, and while it feels like the future, it feels like a very close future. Like a novelty and not that far removed from the tether (trading the socket for a surface). True wireless charging, the ability to put your iPhone or iPad down pretty much where you want, and pick it up again fully charged? Way closer to Star Trek.

TED video after the break.

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