Recently, GM announced a small investment in a company called Powermat. That company makes wireless device charging systems. Their current product allow users to place a receiver in the charge port of their device (cell phone, iPad, etc) and plug in the mat. If the device is rested on the mat, it is wirelessly charged.
The first automotive application expected to result from this partnership is an option for the 2012 Chevy Volt that will become available next year. It will be a wireless charging mat in the center of the console that drivers can rest their cellphones on while driving to have them wirelessly recharge.
The technology works through the use of induced magnetic fields:
Powermat uses magnetic induction to transfer energy. Specifically, energy is transferred from a transmitter (which will be embedded in vehicle) to a receiver (which is connected to or embedded in the device) through a shared magnetic field. Communication between the Mat (transmitter) and the Receiver (personal device) allows the mat to deliver an exact amount of power for the proper length of time so that the transfer of power is safe and efficient and no energy is ever wasted. When a device reaches full charge, power is shut off to that device. This not only saves energy, but it also prevents overcharging of the device’s battery, which can shorten battery life.
This story begs the question as to whether this option could this be all the relationship is about? After all, GM Ventures is a VC unit that invests in small companies that may have big automotive futures.
Over the years there has often been talk and theoretical discussions about wirelessly charging not only small devices, but whole electric cars themselves.
The concept would be to have a large wireless mat in one’s garage, simply park on top of it, and the battery will recharge automatically.
Powermat spokesperson Scott Eisenstein admits his company is looking at how to charge large electric car batteries. “Yes, we are certainly looking into that,” he said.
Also according to Volt vehicle line executive Tony Posawazt, so is GM. “We are studying many exciting new technologies for the future, said Posawatz. “This includes wireless, hands-free inductive charging of the high voltage battery.”
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 7:10 am and is filed under Charging. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.