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Last Updated: Friday, 21 March 2003, 08:58 GMT
Wireless power charges gadgets
By Alfred Hermida
BBC News Online technology staff

You could soon be saying goodbye to having several different chargers for all your handheld gadgets like your mobile phone or MP3 player.

SplashPower pad
The pad uses magnetic induction to charge the devices
A British start-up called SplashPower has come up with technology that can charge all of them at once, without having to plug any of them into the mains.

The system is based around a small flat mat that plugs into the main electricity supply and a special module inside a gadget.

"You pick up your phone, drop it on the pad and it charges. The pad does all the thinking for you," explained David Whitewood, Vice President of Business Development for SplashPower.

The technology developed by SplashPower is based on the principle of magnetic inductive power transfer.

Inductive charging systems are already used in products like rechargeable electric toothbrushes.

"That technology had a lot of limitations," said Mr Whitewood, "and SplashPower have come up with a solution that works for mobile electronic equipment."

'Green pay-off'

David Whitewood
The cost to add SplashPower technology to phones or MP3 players is very low and very affordable
David Whitewood, SplashPower
The system works by generating a magnetic field which transfers the energy into a gadget with a Splash module. This in turn transforms the energy into the direct current that the battery uses to recharge.

The company says the system is perfectly safe and will not even wipe credit cards if you accidentally put one on the pad.

The Cambridge-based company is talking to the big electronics manufacturers about integrating the technology into their products.

"The cost to add the SplashPower technology to phones or MP3 players is very low and very affordable," said Mr Whitewood.

The company says the technology will only add 25 cents to the cost of a device and the module itself is less than a millimetre thick.

The system could hold added benefits for businesses such as mobile phone manufacturers as it could help them cut costs.

"You don't have to put a charger in every box if you implement splashpower in your products," said Mr Whitewood, "and there's a green pay-off in that.

"Every time you change your mobile phone, you perhaps keep your charger in a drawer or throw it away. With SplashPower, you wouldn't have to do that."

The company hopes to see the first pads on sale by the end of the year, costing between $25 and $50.

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