More news on the Holy Grail of digital signage

December 6, 2006 by Dave Haynes

I had yet another discussion yesterday with a client wanting a digital signage gadget that did not need to be plugged in to power up. And I had to yet again say it could be done, as long as the client was willing to invest in a battery the size of a beer fridge.

Powering screens without wires is a huge demand in this industry, and the few attempts at doing something with just batteries are pretty limiting. We’d ALL like to somehow power screens and players wirelessly, without frying anybody or thing that comes within range.

From Display Daily, we hear encouraging news, albeit using small devices:

“The vision of wireless power has a rebirth in the Toko cell phone charger application, even if it is in a relatively limited form when compared to Tesla’s idea.  The immediate benefit comes in “contact-less” charging that eliminates the need for metal terminals touching each other.  This eliminates problems such as rusting and corrosion of the contacts.   



The charger supplies 400mA (for a transmitted power far less than in Tesla’s vision), enabling a full charge in about 2 hours.  The company has shipped 5M cordless phones using such chargers and is reporting it will now move into cell phones in 2007. 


But the bigger story may be the impact of such a move.  The use of wireless power supplies in a technology as ubiquitous as cell phones could spark product designers’ interest in delivering wireless power to all sorts of mainstream consumer electronic devices.  Samsung, are you listening?


Think of the convenience:  no more plugging in at night to recharge the personal devices.  Cell phones, yes but also PMPs (personal media players), PDAs (personal digital assistants), digital cameras, and navigation devices.   The list goes on.  Just being near the power source will charge devices, and this can be anywhere:  restaurants, office buildings and hotel rooms come to mind.  Just look for the “proximity wireless charging station” logo and your devices are getting a power boost while waiting in line for that Starbucks caffeine boost.  


Our take: The Toko announcement demonstrates that wireless power for consumer electronic devices is a near-horizon technology that commands our attention.  As our devices grow more power efficient through the use of LED backlights in displays and large-scale-integration that reduces chip count and board-size requirements, CE technology has reached a tipping point in consumer-electronic power supplies.”

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