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You've probably heard of wireless battery charging technology, but soon you might just see it showing up in your car. Fulton Innovation has teamed up with Leggett & Platt to bring eCoupled Intelligent Wireless Power Technology to your mobile phone, MP3 player, radar detector or just about anything else that needs electricity.

Instead of a web of snarled power cords, the eCoupled system charges any enabled gadget resting on the power pad. As in the illustration, enabled devices resting within range of the pad would be juiced up just as if they were plugged in.

Bret Lewis, director of Fulton Innovation, gave us a demo of the eCoupled system Wednesday night. Fulton had outfitted an iPhone and a Motorola Bluetooth headset with an eCoupled coil. Lewis took the two devices, laid them on a wooden bowl and, as if by magic, the two began to charge. The only indication the bowl was anything but dead tree was an electrical cord running from the back. Underneath, the bowl had been hollowed to accommodate a metal plate with the coil inductor. The same type system could easily be incorporated into a car's console or instrument panel.

Ideally, Lewis says, gadget manufacturers would incorporate the technology into portable devices as they're designed. In the real world, of course, there are potentially billions of legacy devices that could benefit from a third-party attachment to allow the wireless batter charging.

But it gets better! Lewis says the system can also transfer data, potentially allowing wireless coupling of music players and mobile phones with you car.

We also spoke with Ross Haith Jr. of Leggett & Platt who let us in on some commercial vehicle projects they have ready to launch as soon as this year. Read about that as well as press releases from the two companies after the jump.

Related GalleryCES 2009: Wireless gadget charging coming to you car

Live Photos Copyright ©2009 Chris Tutor / Weblogs, Inc.




Ross Haith Jr. of Leggett & Platt talked with us some about their involvement with the eCoupled technology. Haith says L&P is the leading supplier of commercial van shelving. So it just makes sense that their first experiment with wireless power would be charging power tools for workers out in the field.

To charge something like a cordless drill like the one above, a worker would only need to toss it into the eCoupled case. Then the tool would charge until the next use. No wires mean no tangled mess, as well as no plugs to wear out.

Which brings up another point that Lewis of Fulton pointed out: If eCoupled tech were adopted by an auto manufacturer, they could potentially do away with dozens or even hundreds of proprietary plugs. A replacement car stereo could plug into any car's dash with no adapters needed.

Haith said his company is currently talking with Texas Instruments to embed eCoupled system into future gadgets, and since L&P already works with several OEMs like Toyota, BMW and Ford, wireless power in your car could come soon.

Here are some excerpts from Fulton Innovation's press release...

eCoupled technology works based on the principle of resonant magnetic induction. Magnetic induction means that electricity travels via magnetic fields instead of conductive material. Wireless power has been used however inefficiently in one form or another since the days of Nicola Tesla in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Most electronics today use a power cord to transport power to the device's electronic circuits. From there, a transformer uses magnetic induction to form an inductive link that transfers power between the internal circuits. eCoupled technology simply replaces the conductive power cord with another inductive link.

Just like a transformer, eCoupled technology uses coils to transmit energy. One coil in the eCoupled power supply generates a magnetic field at a frequency that will resonate with a second coil in an eCoupled-enabled device. This resonant magnetic field causes electricity to be generated in a device with the second coil. One eCoupled-enabled power supply can power several compatible devices.

eCoupled technology is valuable because wireless power is a tremendous step forward in power supply/transfer for any industry and any application. In addition to the convenience of no more power cords, it will help make electronics more reliable, safer and more energy efficient.

eCoupled is different from other wireless power technologies in several ways. First of all, it's intelligent. eCoupled has a proprietary circuit design that makes sure power is supplied at the right time, and to the right devices. This also makes the device safe. If there is no eCoupled-enabled device present, no power is supplied. If there is an interfering object present, the power source shuts off automatically. If there is an eCoupled-enabled device present, but it is already fully charged or turned off, the same holds true-the power source shuts off. Its resonant magnetic field means that there is very little interference with mobile phones and other wireless devices. Additionally, eCoupled technology can transmit power at up to 98 percent efficiency- which is better than many AC adaptors.

As you can imagine, this also makes eCoupled technology safe. So safe, in fact, that it has been validated by standards organizations in 36 countries for safety, electromagnetic compatibility (noise) and other international performance criteria.

Finally, eCoupled technology is adaptable. It can power multiple devices at different levels and transmit data at up to 1.1 Mbps. It can supply power to devices from milliwatts to kilowatts (that's the difference between a cell phone and a frying pan).

Live Photos Copyright ©2009 Chris Tutor / Weblogs, Inc.