Users of Bluetooth input devices for Apple products will soon be able to chuck the batteries and wirelessly charge the devices similar to an electric toothbrush. Mobee Technology says its Magic Bar, which uses a USB port, is the world's first inductive charger for Apple's battery-powered Bluetooth Keyboard and Magic Trackpad.
Inductive charging is a form of wireless energy transfer. Unlike conductive charging, no plug-in wires are needed. Energy is transferred through an electromagnetic field.
No More AA Batteries
The Magic Bar consists of an aluminum base station that attaches to a Mac's USB port and a battery that replaces disposable batteries. Although the price has yet to be announced, Mobee says the device will pay for itself in one year of not buying batteries.
Mobee is promising 10 days of charge time from one six-hour charge, with a life of 500 cycles and guaranteed for a year. Switzerland-based Mobee also sells an inductive charger for Apple's wireless Magic Mouse, which won an International Forum Product Design Award this year.
"Inductive charging has been around for a long time in products like electric toothbrushes," said Gartner technology analyst Michael Gartenberg. "As consumers embrace more battery-powered devices, the desire to cut more cords for charging is only going to increase."
In September, battery maker Energizer launched the Qi (pronounced Chee) inductive charger that uses the universal charging standard developed by the Wireless Power Consortium.
The Qi allows consumers to charge smartphones, MP3 players, cameras or any other device using five watts of power or less on a single charging station, regardless of manufacturer.
It sells for $89, with charging sleeves for Apple's iPhone and the BlackBerry Curve sold separately for $34.99 each.
Gigaware sells a 2-Dock Inductive Charger that powers two remotes for Nintendo's motion-sensing Wii video-game system for $32.99.
No More Wires
Market-research firm iSuppli predicted in June that shipments of electronic products with wireless charging capabilities will increase from 3.6 million in 2010 to 234.9 million in 2014.
"While a number of serious challenges continue to present barriers to immediate wide adoption, wireless chargers will start shipping in meaningful volume this year and then quickly ramp up as the devices achieve greater market acceptance," said Tina Teng, senior analyst for wireless research at iSuppli. "Over the next five years, wireless charging devices will find their way into an increasing number of applications, including mobile phones, portable media players, digital still cameras, and mobile PCs."
Car makers are also looking at wireless charging. In June Germany's Siemens AG and BMW will test a non-contact system that can add juice to cars during short stops in a project funded by the German Environment Ministry.