One of the newest crazes sweeping techno-nerds are wireless charging devices like the PowerNat. At the all-things-geek Consumer Electronics Show, GM announced it is investing $5 million in PowerMat to bring this technology to its cars.
PowerMat uses inductive charging, which transmits electricity via magnets without any actual, physical connection. As the world comes to rely more and more on pocket computers (I just bought a Droid 2 yesterday and I’m already obsessed), we find ourselves overcome by cords. I’ve got cords to phones I don’t even own anymore. But if you just plop your device down on a PowerMat (after installing a small “receiver” on your phone), it will automatically start charging.
Pretty neat, right? GM seems to think so, and is investing $5 million through GM Ventures to bring the PowerMat technology inside its vehicles exclusively for the first year, probably starting in 2012. The PowerMat will be placed on the center console in the front and there will be a mat placed for the rear passengers too. No more cluttering up the interior with different cords. While I was driving across country, I was constantly charging my phone, computer, and even camera through a power inverter connected to the cigarette lighter. A PowerMat would’ve come in handy, but instead I was often draped with cords.
Still, I’m thinking that maybe there’s more to this than just PowerMats for the Volt (and other GM vehicles).
This might be a stretch, but perhaps GM is interested in “scaling up” the PowerMat technology to charge, say, an entire car? That’d be a huge bragging point, as well as selling point, to would-be EV buyers. Never use a cord again! Just parking your car and it charges itself! The idea isn’t new, but with a company as big as GM behind it, it could become very real. For now though, we’ll have to settle for wirelessly charging our phones, which is still pretty damn neat.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.