Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dump the Plug! - your wireless future at the SDForum Marketing SIG

By Mark Helfen

Next Monday's Marketing SIG meeting (December 14) will be about wireless power - a future where wall warts, extension cords, and floor spaghetti will all disappear. Eventually....

I managed to talk to two of the evening's panelists. Christopher Surdi of PowerBeam, and Afshin Partovi of Mojo Mobility, and here are a few predictions:

  • "In 5 to 10 years, the word 'recharge' will be deleted from every day vocabulary"

  • "Your sons and daughters will never have to plug anything in for power"

  • Furniture will be designed and built so that wires will disappear. Simply by putting your cell phone, desk lamp, or wireless on your desk it will be powered.

  • People at the local Starbucks will no longer compete for tables close to wall plugs. Just by being there, your cell phone or laptop will be recharged.

In addition to Surdi and Partovi, Steve Day of Malabar Technologies will also be a panelist.

PowerBeam and Mojo Mobility both have different technologies, but both panelists believe there is a large consumer demand for wireless power. Think WIFI, but instead of a data signal, the power necessary to run the device, or charge the battery, will be available without a physical connection.

The initial products are charging pads that are plugged in, and cell phones or laptops that have batteries with "receivers" to get power.

The market is just starting up. According to Partovi, Dell has released a laptop with a wireless charging unit. The Latitude Z business laptop can be placed on a special stand that recharges the battery. But the stand and laptop only work with each other.

The eventual idea is "ubiquitous access to power. In your car, at Starbucks, built into furniture, on the tray table of your airplane seat. In any public area," said Partovi. "Easy, universal access."

Think about the stuff you need to haul along when you travel - chargers for each of your battery powered items, maybe an extension cord. The idea is to leave them all at home

This future is still a ways away. Both companies are working with OEMs to design their technology into products, and said that consumer products will be available in late 2010 or early 2011. And both forecast wide consumer adoption in the 5 to 10 year time frame.

Standards are also just starting to be developed, to allow power supplies and devices to interoperate. Both products are intelligent and don't consume power when there is no demand.

So come to the MarketingSIG on Monday - we promise that everyone will get a charge out of the meeting. You might even walk out with your cell phone battery topped up.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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