Cook Right On The Countertop
Near-field wireless power can do a lot more than charge a phone. Instead of plugging in your blender every time you want to crush some ice, simply put it down in the right place on the counter and get all the power you need. Near-field is very efficient at transferring power; in this case Fulton says its Qi system manages 98.6%.
Put a smart pan down with sensors on the same spot and you can cook on it; a magnet turns it into an induction hob so the pan will get hot but the surface won’t. The eCoupled system can send information as well as power, so you could send basic recipe details like heating the pan to the boiling point of water for five minutes (the sensor in the pan tells the charging point when it’s hot enough) or heating the pan to a set temperature.
That’s even more convenient for ready meals; we’ve seen a concept soup package with a recyclable steel plate in the base that can heat it up when you put it down on the charging spot. The steam needs a way to get out and you don’t want the soup to heat up on its own, so it would have a pull tab that uncovers the perforated plastic lid – and activates the wireless power, telling the charger how long to heat the soup for.
eCoupled can do this cheaply enough for disposable packaging because it’s printing the electronics for the receiver onto sticky labels; “we can print conductors, transistors and capacitors,” explained Fulton research scientist Joshua Schwannecke. “This could be available now and it could be very cheap.”
The Qi charging spot doesn’t stick up so you can use that area for preparation just like any other part of the countertop (it’s even easier with the WiPower system because the antenna can fit under the countertop). That means you wouldn’t need to have a separate hob – just one surface you could use for everything. And while you’re enjoying the soup, your phone or your laptop can be charging on the same spot where you made lunch (Dell launched its first notebook with the eCoupled charging antenna in 2009).