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Plug-in recharging to become history

Technology giant Fujitsu Ltd. has devised a gadget that is able to recharge the batteries in multiple portable electronic devices simultaneously and without the hassle of connecting cables.

The company's prototype transmits electricity to the devices - everything from a laptop computer to a mobile phone, portable music player or digital camera - via radio waves.

The system relies on a resonating magnetic field to send electricity between a recharger fitted with a special device and the batteries in the device, and Fujitsu officials say it may one day be developed to the point at which it is able to recharge the batteries in electric cars.

The prototype is currently able to charge a battery at a distance of only 1.5 cm, but the company is aiming to improve that distance to several meters and have the system in practical use as soon as 2012. The company declined to comment on how much the devices might cost.

In addition to the convenience of the system, Fujitsu said it provides the ability to design charging systems that work in 1/150th of the time currently required for rechargers.

Other companies have attempted wireless charging, primarily through electromagnetic induction, although the drawback is that the method only works over very short distances. By contrast, the magnetic resonance method, which was first proposed in 2006, uses a coil and capacitor as a resonator to transmit electricity. This method is more effective as the energy can be sent several meters and because a single transmitter can power multiple receiving devices.

Fujitsu's technology dramatically shortens the time required to design transmitters and receivers for magnetic resonance charging systems and enables very accurate tuning of resonant conditions, even for compact transmitters and receivers that are usually prone to influences from nearby magnetic or metallic objects.

"Wireless charging has become an increasingly desirable technology in recent years, as people are eager to avoid the clutter and inconvenience of using power cables to recharge their mobile phones, digital cameras, notebook computers and other portable electronics," the company said in a statement.

"Fujitsu plans to continue using this analysis and design technology in research and development on wireless charging systems for mobile phones and other portable devices, and plans to bring products using it to market in 2012," it said.

"The company is also looking at applying the results of this work to fields other than portable electronics, including power transmission between circuit boards or computer chips, and providing mobile charging systems for electric cars."