Can new device ‘revolutionize’ wireless charging?

Israeli startup Powermat, backed by Jay-Z, develops cable-free charging surfaces for electric devices.

Israeli startup Powermat 390 (photo credit: Courtesy of Powermat)
Israeli startup Powermat 390
(photo credit: Courtesy of Powermat)
Anouk Lorie and Tiffany Stelman write for NoCamels
My friend got an iPhone 4S. She could not stop bragging about it and all the amazing apps she now uses “every single minute of the day.” I know that to be false. How? Because the iPhone 4S battery doesn’t last a whole day. In fact, it doesn’t even last a few hours if you use a data-loaded application.
On the way from Tel Aviv to Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev desert, my other friend with an iPhone 4S (what’s wrong with a good old Nokia!?) used Waze, the free GPS navigation app. It showed us where there’s a cop, where there’s traffic. It was awesome. Until the iPhone dropped dead, two hours in.
Needless to say, smartphones are great, but for their short battery life.
That is, apparently, where Israeli startup Powermat comes in. It develops cable-free charging surfaces for electric devices. Plop your phone onto the mat (it looks like a mousepad) and it automatically starts charging.
Since Powermat’s launch in 2009, the company has gone a long way in improving its technology and creating major partnerships, with Proctor & Gamble, for example and with popular American rapper Jay-Z.
In September 2011 Powermat announced a joint venture with Proctor & Gamble – the company that owns Duracell. Together, the two are hoping to shape a wireless charging revolution under the Duracell-Powermat brand.
“One of the key benefits of entering into the joint venture is the ability to leverage our global reach and branding capability,” says Scott Eisenstein, Powermat’s VP of public relations. This month it was reported that the company is raising $30-40 million in a financing round.
In addition, American rapper Jay-Z has signed on as the spokesman for Duracell- Powermat and has joined as an investment partner. “You can look to him to be the face of wireless power going forward,” says Einstein. (Nothing less.)
According to Eisenstein, “We are trying to introduce our technology to a larger audience and Jay-Z speaks to a generation that is poised to bring about the wireless power revolution.”
So how does Powermat actually work? The technology uses magnetic induction. It creates a magnetic field and transfers energy within that field. Eisenstein explains that “Duracell-Powermat is a two-part offering: we attach a cover to the user’s cellular device that contains wireless capabilities. The second part is the mat itself. The user places the Smartphone directly on the mat, resulting in maximum efficiency of the energy transfer.”
Powermat’s technology also senses when a device is fully charged, and then halts power delivery, thus eliminating energy waste. Einstein says that “due to the fact that the technology operates on energy, there is no radiation emitted by the process of wireless charging. There is no possibility for electrocution, fires and it is even possible to work the technology under-water.”
Last year, Powermat announced a collaboration with General Motors. Eisenstein says that this collaboration “is moving forward, starting with the 2013 line of cars. The cars will have Duracell-Powermat wireless capabilities built-in and they will be available later on in 2012. GM plans to eventually introduce wireless capabilities to its entire fleet.”
Powermat is pursuing standardization in wireless charging with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), called the Power Matters Alliance (PMA). “The IEEE are setting a standard for wireless power for the average consumer in conjunction with many other companies, including General Motors, Proctor & Gamble, Facebook and Google to make power not only wireless but also smart,” says Eisenstein.
Powermat recently exhibited a new line of products which represent the company’s future plans, such as the Powermat backup battery. “It lets you charge on the Powermat and take wireless power with you, so that you can basically charge when you are in an open field,” adds Eisenstein.
Eisenstein mentions that the company plans to expand into global markets, including Israel.
NoCamels - Israeli Innovation News