Wireless networks and Bluetooth keyboards can free people from some cable clutter, but Fujitsu believes new research could help whisk away some power cords, too.
Fujitsu said Monday that it's overcome design hurdles for a mechanism for wireless charging of electronic devices and that it plans to use the technology in products to be sold in 2012.
The general idea, which Intel, MIT, and other organizations have been researching for years, offers the prospect of a laptop or phone that charges when you set it on a desk or table, potentially getting rid of some cables and making travel easier. Fujitsu has bigger ideas in mind, too: transmitting power within a computer chassis and charging electric cars, for example.
Fujitsu Laboratories has been investigating a technique proposed in 2006 that's called magnetic resonance. It uses a coil of wire and an electronic component called a capacitor to create a resonance between it and the power receiver. But the technique is hampered by the high complexity of computer modeling.
The design is complicated by interactions of all the elements involved besides just the power transmitter and receiver, including the other components of the device to be charged. The task gets harder as the device gets smaller or as multiple devices are on a charging pad at the same time, Fujitsu said.
The new technique was used in one three-device analysis that ran 150 times faster than with earlier methods, the company said. Using its designs, power can be transmitted with at least 85 percent efficiency to devices in range of the charging station.
"What Fujitsu Laboratories has done is to develop technology that dramatically shortens the time required to design transmitters and receivers for magnetic resonance charging systems and, in addition, enables accurate tuning of resonant conditions in the design phase, even for compact transmitters and receivers that are prone to influences from nearby metallic and magnetic objects," Fujitsu said.
It's not yet clear, though, how well the system would work for devices that haven't been explicitly designed in advance or for different devices ranging from hearing aids and Bluetooth headsets to cameras and laptops. It's not likely customers would want to buy new wireless charging pads for each device they own, and creating standards that will work with many device manufacturers' products will be another complication.
Fujitsu Laboratories plans to present details of its approach on Tuesday at the 2010 conference of the Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineers (IEICE) at Osaka Prefecture University in Japan.